Salsa > Dancing cha-cha on 1

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by salilsurendran, Apr 16, 2011.

  1. salilsurendran

    salilsurendran New Member

    Hey Friends,
    One of the instructors I know is actually teaching dancing cha cha on 1. The instructor is very graceful and has good body movement but I always thought that dancing cha-cha on 1 was not possible. If you dance on 1 then on beat 3 both your foot are together and on 4 and 4.5 you shuffle your feet and on 5 you take a step back making the dance feel uneven. In between 3&4 a whole beat you shuffle your foot and then between 4.5 & 5 you take a full step back which feels awkward. Dancing cha-cha on 2 feels a lot more even since you shuffle your foot on the half beats. Was wondering if anyone does really dance cha-cha on 1.
  2. bookish

    bookish Active Member

    I was taught to break on 2 for ballroom-style cha-cha (American/international), but socially I dance based on where the cha-cha-cha beat is in the music. You didn't specify ballroom or club cha-cha although it sounds like club.

    Traditionally the beat seems to be either 234&1 or 123&4 (I think the latter is guajira? Still trying to figure that out. There was one of those at a salsa night recently with a great live band.) But if you dance to pop music it can be in various places.

    The break is then the beat after the last "cha". E.g. when the cha-cha-cha is 4&1, the break is on 2. But if the cha-cha-cha is 3&4 then the break is on 1. There's a nontraditional synthpop tune I like (Goldfrapp, Lovely 2 C U) that has a 1&234 beat, so it breaks on 3.
  3. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

  4. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Interesting. I was taught that 3&4 was wrong, not just different. It's always been 4&1 for me (ballroom person,) even when I was hearing something different. Care to expound, anyone? :cool: What's guajira?
  5. In theory, you are able to syncopate any count...SO what he is doing is possible to do, its just not necessarily musical... But the strong syncopation in the music happens on 4&1, so we do the triple steps on those counts...
  6. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Guajira is one of the " Son " rhythms that ALL latin musix is based upon.

    It was the template for Cha Cha, and was what we originally danced in mambo, under the name of "Triple" mambo .

    Common in many of the old 40s/50s style music. The variety is very limited ,and as it happens, we have a similar discussion going on in Salsa Forums where I have posted song titles that are pure Guajira and some which have both rhythms in the same song. There is a very good e.g. of this on Cachaos last vid ( the "father " of Mambo ) he made, before he died last yr (?) . If you like authentic latin, theres a CD and DVD in one package.. excellent value, and a surprise appearance by a Hollywood star .

    I used to see Cubanos in Tampa dancing Guajira , on the odd occasion.

    Many Cubans today ( in Cuba ) still dance on "1".
  7. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    thats not the issue.. the point is WHERE the syncop is written in the music.. adding, for styling purposes is common practice , but knowing the difference between the 2 written styles is vastly important.
  8. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Headed over there to lurk. Thanks. tt. :-D
  9. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Well-Known Member

    tangotime, my (limited) understanding of salsa is that the clave is a bit more complex than On 1 or On 2; that On 1 and On 2 are really just approximations. Is it a similar case for cha cha?
  10. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    As far as I remember, ChaChaChá was sort of a reimport to Cuba. Though the cuban orchestra leader Enrique Jorrín invented this kind of music, it got popular only by a roundabout detour through NY. And so it acutally may be possible, the habbit to dance ChaChaChá on2 may origin in Harlem.

    When I saw the following vid for the first time I wondered myself, why this (academical) cuban dance couple (from 1:20 on) dances ChaChaChá on1. But may me social street dance is accented differntly.

    Do you mean, they dance Guajira on1?
  11. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Yes, and Cha Cha in some cases.. Geoffrey Hearne actually wrote about this in an article in my Soc. monthly mag a while back.
  12. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    The " Clave " is what definds the the style of Rumba rhythm ( it can be a 2/3 or 3/2 accent )

    To dance on clave, the actual physical act occurs on the 2nd beat of the 2nd bar ( the 6 if you will ); the Conga slap on "4and", sets the the Cha cha rhythm; this is also why the correct name for the dance is Cha Cha ( the physical/vocal act of dancing, added the 3rd Cha ) .

    Also,Thats why there may be a distinction between Guajira and Cha " dance " wise.. the syncopations occur in different places in the music unless, as musicians sometimes do, include both . As a musician once told me,, we dont play for dancers, we play for ourselves ( these were not ballroom guys !) . I remember him also saying " I sometimes am confused as to WHY they are not dancing to things we are playing " .
  13. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    One has to consider this when seeking origins.. Cachao is the person credited with inventing mambo ( the music ).. so.. extrapolating that to Cha is a fairly straight line.. Mambo was invented ( the dance ) on " 2 ", so the natural progression was to place Cha Cha ( being an offshoot of Triple mambo, a fast form of Guajira ) on the same rhythmical beat .

    I believe, that Cuba, as isolated as it is, kept it on the "1" .
  14. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    ..and Mambo cubano is danced on1 as well,isn´t it?
  15. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Again, some dance on 2 .

    Theres an old saying that.. some dance to melody some dance to rhythm.. but I prefer dancing " in " the music .
  16. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Must do some reading on the various dance styles and derivations.

    What I will say, however, is that, as somebody who dances a lot of freestyle stuff and who seriously studied music for several years, I don't understand why it's so important to label this or that as wrong. When I dance freestyle, I syncopate when and wherever I feel it. Often it's where the musicians put a syncopation. Sometimes it's not. I make sure I end up on the correct foot at the beginning of the next phrase, so my partner has something to hold onto, so to speak. That's all I promise -- that and that I won't get too fancy with newbies, cause it scares them. lol.

    I think it's important to understand music and dance history and the evolutions of certain rhythms. But I don't understand why I have to be enslaved to a certain set of rhythms and accents, just because somebody else says I should be.

    I can't imagine that the people who "invented" these styles and rhythms were anywhere near as up-tight as we are. Heck. It was a Saturday night gig and the crowd was getting bored, so somebody came up with a variation in the middle of an improv riff. And a new style was born.

    Not trying to be disrespectful. I just think that, while it's important to understand where we came from, sometimes it's important to me to just have fun with the tools at my disposal.
  17. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    That "syncop." thing is interesting. its funny how we acknowledge it in latin rhythms.. and yet, for e.g. in Waltz, we literally dance a syncop. where none exists in the music !.

    As to the up tight comment.. so true..most latinos I knew and danced with , couldnt tell a clave from a cowbell nor did they care .

    In fact, most dont even know these sites exist , and if they do, they are probably laughing !!
  18. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Well-Known Member

    Thanks, tangotime!
    LOL :grin:
  19. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Exactly, and that´s what tt meant with

  20. AllanT

    AllanT New Member

    Why Cha Cha on 1?

    I have a question and an observation. First, I have observed that teachers who teach the first movement in Cha as the break (man forward in International and back in American) tend to promote this "error". This is because the predominant beat is the 1. Beginners will naturally tend to do their first movement on the predominent beat, thus on 1. If one starts with a starter step on beat 1, followed by the break on 2, it tends not to produce this problem. I have even seen teachers in a lesson say "2,3" when they start their students, but actually, listening to the music they were starting on 1! Very confusing!
    I am not particularly uptight about being "right". But when there are two dirfferent rythm patterns being used it is hard for people to connect well. Standardization of the rhthm pattern used should mean that Cha Cha dancers world over can move easily to the music together easil and with more excitement. Dancing Cha Cha Cha with the heavy emphasis on the third Cha prodices a rhythmic climax in the movement on the heavy beat of the music. That feels more exciting than breaking on one with nothng leading up to it.
    But then the question. Is there any curriculum where breaking on 1 is taught? I dance literally aroud the world. I find lots doing it, but can't figure out if someone somewhere is actually teaching it.
    (BTW, International rumba has this problem even worse. Most people used to American rythm pattern will automatically break forward on 1, when trying to do international rumba. It makes for a real dogs breakfast wth three types, American, International and international moves with American rythm parttern :confused:)

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