- Cha Cha fixes timing problems.
- Cha Cha trains your ear.
- Cha Cha teaches body styling and isolations.
- Cha Cha is cool.
Frankie Martinez often says that "if Salsa is the man, then Cha Cha is the woman". Cha Cha can be so delicate like the smell of a woman's hair and as emotional as the jealousy of a girlfriend. There is an incredible addiction to dancing Cha Cha that is not very apparent at first, but very powerful.
Maybe it is because of its catchy and light Cha Cha Cha rhythm, or the marked accent of the 2 and 6 beats. Maybe it's the carefree and non-hurried feel of the dance. Cha cha is so slow compared to Salsa that it feels like there is almost an infinite amount of time to develop and execute body isolations. Moreover, because Cha Cha is slower in tempo, we tend to pay more attention to the rhythmic components. The tumbao rhythm becomes so apparent in a way that it takes control of our body. The connection of the steps to the percussion of the music is remarkably easy to feel.
Perhaps its attraction rests on the opposite feel of its components, the cha-cha-cha (4 and 5 or 8 and 1) part feels subtle and natural, and the 2 3 (or 6 7) feel so determined and exact. And it is this contrast in movement that allows us to experiment with our bodies.
In terms of technique, the Cha Cha teaches exact timing and definition of steps. The Cha Cha rhythm is easy to hear and dance because the music is so slow that we can internalize the connection of the steps to the percussion beats. Initially, beginners dancers find it difficult to stay on the Cha Cha beat because Cha Cha's tempo is so slow compared to Salsa. After a while the "cha cha cha" part of the beat jumps out from the music and it becomes crystal clear, taking hold of one's sense of timing.
Cha Cha is precise in way that salsa cannot match. 10 milliseconds of discrepancy in a Cha cha step makes the body feel out-of-tune, whereas the same discrepancy in Salsa is the expected standard tolerance. ChaCha has very little room for timing error, but lots of freedom of in movement range.
So next time that the DJ plays a Cha Cha, do not take a break. Instead, grab a partner and use that opportunity to experiment with some isolations. Better yet, try to dance Cha Cha with perfect timing. After a while, there should be a noticeable improvement in your Salsa dancing.
[More at ScarletMambo]