Ballroom Latin Dance Made Accurate: How To Dance A Cha Cha To Music

Nearly all Ballroom beginners start by learning steps and syllabus figures one by one. They only concentrate on getting the steps and timing right within the few bars of music. At the same time, teachers may create some simple choreography utilizing these newly learned steps. Chances are that the teacher may use some slow music for these routines so that the students can practice accordingly. It is just natural that beginners are just too conditioned to dance bar by bar.

The Cruel Reality On The Dance Floor

Once on the dance floor especially when normal tempo music is played, many novice dancers become intimidated and find that they cannot catch up with the music no matter how well they have practiced their routines. The more they rush, the more they cannot catch up with the music. This is indeed a very frustrating experience to some.

Always A Step Ahead

A piece of music is played continuously. All the bars are linked together even when there are rhythm changes or syncopated timings. There are actually no breaks in between bars. Likewise in dancing a routine, all figures are supposed to link together without stops even when there are timing variations.

The fact is, the early learning path only concentrates on getting the figures and steps right. Little has been taught about how to link the dance figures and dance them on time through the body. Unfortunately, in most cases, novice dancers will not learn to dance to music until a later stage.

It is all right to memorize figures. But never think of finishing a figure completely before going to the next because there is never enough time to do so. It is therefore necessary to think “a step ahead” before the next figure. As said, the music is continuous and so are the body actions. Before finishing a figure, start anticipating the next move by some kind of body movements.

The “momentum” generated by these body movements from the last beat will get dancers prepared for the next step if not the next figure. The end result is that there is just enough or sometimes plenty of time to dance all the figures in the routine without being rushed. If all the moves are well anticipated, dancing to music becomes natural and easy.

How To Dance A Cha Cha To Music

Cha Cha is always popular, but many novice dancers have trouble with dancing it on time and to music. One way to tackle this timing difficulty is to think of the counting. Instead of just 2,3 4 and 1, as Alan Tornsberg once said in one of his lectures, think and 2 and 3 and 4 and 1 and so on. The “and” count actually serves the purpose of keeping the body moving while anticipating the next step.

Instead of taking the step right at 2 (whole beat), a very common misunderstanding among novice dancers, start moving the body at “and”. This preparation movement will also generate the momentum needed for the next move and so on. By dancing all the “and” counts, not only will the dancing stay on time, the entire routine will also become more fluid and continuous.

A point to note is that all the “and” count movements do not have to be big steps and dramatic moves. A little holding and releasing of the body muscles will serve the purpose.

For individual practice, dancers can try doing some basic Cha Cha Walks by counting and 2 and 3 and 4 and 1. Once confident, they can dance the routine by the same type of counting. They will be surprised to see that all the figures will become sharper and more accurate at the end of the day. Apart from Cha Cha, the same theory applies to other Latin dances.