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Cha Online Course

Introducing Cha Cha rhythm 

In Round Dancing, Cha is denoted using 4/4 timing, using a count of 1, 2, 3/&, 4;  usually with five steps to a measure.  Whenever we take more steps than beats, we have syncopation where some of the steps are quicker than others:  here we have syncopation on beat 3.  You can think of the timing as Slow, Slow, Quick/Quick, Slow; or 1, 2, Cha/Cha, Cha;  If you have danced Cha within other dance styles, you may find the timing differs, as in Rounds we start the count on beat 1. 


We stand with our toes turned slightly out (about 11 and 1 on a clock face) and weight forward on the balls of the feet, so that in Butterfly position there is some tension in the arms which allows the Man to lead the Lady.  If the first step of a figure is taken Forward on the Left foot (or Back on the Right foot), the toe skims the floor until the foot is in line with the standing foot, then the step is taken on the ball of the foot with soft knee.  As weight is taken on to the ball of the foot, the heel is lowered and the knee straightens causing the hip to move to the side.  The hip movement is generated from the pressure through the ball of the foot. 


Many figures in Latin rhythms are danced either in a looser position or involve releasing one or both hand holds.  When an arm is released (eg in a New Yorker), it should be placed in a chosen position, usually extended with the palm down.  The free arm should not be flung out – this can be dangerous to other dancers.  Nor should the arms hang down as this both compromises the dancer’s posture and can slow the movement into the next figure.  It is better to keep the arms at about waist height to facilitate the next change of position. 


The figures given here are not a full list of Cha figures, but will be enough to introduce you to the rhythm and its characteristics, together with commonly used dance positions, techniques and families of figures.  You will find written descriptions of figures, “Walk & Talk” descriptions plus videoclips and practice modules, which you can use as you wish – everyone learns in a different way.  Take time at the beginning to master the basic steps, as later figures will build upon those learned at the start.  We suggest you revise previously learned figures before moving on.  If you have any questions or find you have problems with any figure (either physical or understanding) just e-mail and we will try to help. 


If you have Round Danced before, either in class or a workshop, you may find some of the figures are not quite as you remember them:  from time to time Roundalab slightly change the definitions for consistency.  Also no two Cuers will explain things in quite the same way, or teach in the same order but we all work to the RAL definitions.  This is the sequence we have used most recently – bear in mind we usually only teach one or two new figures per class with plenty of revision and time for practice.  Take it at your own speed and enjoy the journey. 



Cha Online Course 

We've broken our Cha course into 5 easy to follow sections featuring explanations of the figures, talk throughs, practice activities and videos. These are available on DVD upon request for a nominal charge; if you would like to request one, head over to our Contact Form or email We advise you read through the Warm Up & Cool Down and Dance Positions & Directions pages before starting.

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