Friday, February 13, 2009

Cha Cha Cha - Basic Movement

The basic Cha Cha movement, in international syllabus, starts on count 2 of any phrase in the music. Most people, when learning, try to move on count 1. To ensure that the movement starts at the right time, most teachers will teach the step by beginning with the weight on the opposite leg and transfer it on counts 4-and-1. For that reason, the footwork outlined below will also start with this weight transfer. There is no need to repeat the weight transfer when doing multiple Cha Cha basics in a row as it is already a part of the movement you will be doing.

If you can find some Cha Cha music, just listen to it for a bit.... Start counting in phrases of 4. Join the phrases together by counting the half beat between the 4 and the 1 – said “Four-and-One” or “Cha-Cha-Cha”. Your counting should go: “One, TWO, three, four-and-one, TWO, three, four-and-one, TWO, three, etc…” As the Cha Cha shares a lot of steps with other dances - specifically the Rumba - this "Four-and-One" or "Cha Cha Cha" is what makes the Cha Cha unique. It is called a Chasse (pronounced "shah-say") and is a defining difference in almost all the steps.

The following footwork can be done in a standard Latin hold, or a basic hand to hand hold.

Leaders’/Men’s Footwork

Leaders start with their weight on their Left foot, the Right foot extended to the side and just resting the inside of the ball of the foot on the floor.

Count the cha cha rhythm in your head and use the “four-and-one” to transfer our weight onto your Right foot.

Step forward onto your Left foot on count 2. Replace your Left foot where it was and transfer your body weight back on count 3.

Counts “four-and-one” are used for the Cha Cha Chasse. Step onto your left foot moving directly to the side (4),

close your right foot to the Left (and),

and step to the side again on the Left foot (1).

You now have your Right foot free to step back. (Count 2)

Replace your weight onto your Left foot in the place that it was on count 3 and reverse the Cha Cha Chasse to the Right this time – stepping side on your Right foot,

together with your Left foot,

and side again on the Right. (Count 4+1)


You are now in a position to step forward again on your Left foot to begin the whole process from the start – omitting the original transfer of weight.

Follower’s/Ladies’ Footwork

The follower does the reverse of the leader. Start with your weight on your Right foot, Left foot extended to the side, lightly resting with just the inside of the ball of the foot on the floor.

On count 4+1 (when led) transfer your weight to the Left foot.

On count 2 step back on your Right foot. Replace the weight onto your Left foot, putting it back where it was, and transfer the weight on count 3.

Cha Cha Chasse on 4+1 – step to the side on your Right foot,

close your left foot to the right,

and then step to the side again on your Right.

Your left foot is now free to step forward on Count 2. Replace your Right foot where it had been and transfer your weight on count 3.

Cha Cha Chasse to the Left – stepping side on the Left foot,

together with the Right,

and side again on the Left – leaving the Right foot free to step back and begin the step again (omitting the original transfer of weight).

Repeat starting again on count 2.

Notes for both the leader and follower:

- Each half basic (forward/backward and cha cha chasse) should make an ‘L’ shape.

- When stepping forward or back, move your foot in a straight line. This allows your partner to fill the space you have vacated, or vice versa. Do NOT try to step outside your partner. Aside from looking like you have just stepped of a horse, it will prevent you from staying in time with the music as you use faster tracks.

- Keep your steps small, especially in the Cha Cha Chasse. This will allow you to maintain the speed of footwork necessary to dance a Cha Cha up to tempo.

- Make sure that your heels are touching the ground on each of your steps. This will facilitate the hip movement that is characteristic to most of the Latin dances – but don’t worry about this movement until you are confident with the footwork.


  1. Cool post!
    I love it...I'm learning your steps and it's fun:)

  2. My two left feet are starting to get in sync with my right foot. It's great! I'm 72 and having fun. Thanks