Dance Tidbits – Cha Cha

What do sizzle, cuckoo, buzz and Cha Cha all have in common? All three are onomatopoeic. I bet you are saying “what is that and what has it got to do with the Cha Cha?” Onomatopoeic is a noun or adjective, depending on how it is used. In other ways to say it, words that describe sound. Get it now. With the Cha Cha or as some like to call it, Cha-cha-cha, it came from the sound of dancers’ shoes as they shuffled around the floor!

Cha Cha originated in Cuba in the late 1940’s to early 1950’s by composer and violinist Enrique Jorrin. It is an offshoot of the Mambo and the Rumba. What makes Cha Cha different is the slow steps of the Rumba and Mambo are being replaced with a triple step in the Cha Cha.

Whether the Cha Cha is danced to Cuban music, Latin pop or Latin rock, one thing is for sure, there better be plenty of Latin hip movement. Hip action is achieved by alternating the bending and straightening of the knees. This is also known as American Rhythm style. In the International Latin style, the weighted leg is almost always straight. This version of Cha Cha is one of the five dances of the “Latin American” program of international ballroom competitions.

Cha Cha is alive and bubbly. It is meant to be playful and lots of fun. There needs to be a synchronicity with your partner that should give us a “happy, party” feeling as we watch you move around the floor with impeccable style, majestic dance steps and marvelous hip technique that sets you apart from every other dancer couple on the floor!

Happy dancing,



Shane Meuwissen is the Media Specialist for Fordney Foundation.  He is a former dance instructor who know works with his company Slow Motion Dance Videos capture the beauty of dancing. If you would like to learn more about Shane and his video work, visit his website