This page under minor construction. Requesting assistance to write the Advanced Concepts.
Introduction: Cha-Cha Basic is just like Rumba Basic, except for two key differences. First, there’s the “cha-cha-cha." The second is that Cha-Cha is at a slightly faster tempo.
Frame: Latin. Count: 4 beats. Start on the 2nd beat.
Leaders and Followers: The exact same moves, simply mirrored. When the leader steps to the left, the follower steps to the right. When the leader steps forward, the follower steps back. You get the idea.

Instructions (Leader Perspective)
Start with your weight on the right leg. Your left foot should be pointed and with a lifted heel. Both legs are straight.
Pay attention to where your legs are straight and where they are bent.
Below is the beat count and the corresponding steps. cha-cha-cha is 4 AND 1.

2. Left foot slides to your right foot. Weight is still on your right leg. Consequently, your right leg is still straight while your left leg is slightly bent.
From there, your left leg shoots forward into a lock position. Weight is now evenly distributed between your legs. Lock Position: Front leg is straight. Back leg is bent such that its knee fits into the crook of the front knee. Back heel should be up. Feet should form a 90 degree angle.
3. Rock back so that your weight is on your right leg. Both legs straight. Right foot is flat; left foot is pointed.
4. The opposite of what you did in Beat 2. Your left foot now slides back to your right foot. Weight is still on your right leg. Right leg straight; left leg bent.
From there, your left leg shoots out to the left. Left leg is now straight. You are now currently in the position you originally started in.
AND. Shift your weight to your left leg. When doing so, slide your right foot next to your left foot. Your right knee should be bent.
Herein lies the critical part of this step. During the duration of this beat, shift your weight to your right leg. Your right leg should now be straight; your left knee bent. This step really is about the change of weight.
1. Shoot your left leg out such that your left and right legs are now straight. Your weight is on your left leg. Right foot is pointed.
This is the position you started in, only reversed.
2. Slide your right foot next to your left. Your weight is still on your left leg. Now shoot your right leg back. Both legs should be straight, weight evenly divided. Plant your back heel. It is very easy to cheat here and only shift your weight slightly. Shift it so that your back foot is planted.
3. Rock back so that your weight is on your left leg. Both legs straight. Left foot is flat; right foot is pointed.
Repeat the Cha-cha-cha, in reverse direction now.
You are now in your original position.

Instructions (Follower Perspective)
Exactly the same as the leader.

Tips and Tricks
  • Legs And Weight. This cannot be said enough. It is very important for you to be extremely aware at all times of where your weight is and whether your legs are straight or not. The cha-cha-cha is all about legs and weight.
  • Pushing Off. The whole idea behind shifting weight is to make dancing efficient and easy. Instead of lifting your foot and placing it where you want, it is much easier to instead push off the floor and use weight transfer as your way of moving about, gliding and shifting.
  • Tempo. Do this dance slowly. Make sure your weight transfer and legs are good before you try raising the speed. Because if you can't cha-cha slow, you most definitely cannot do it fast.
  • Practice Rumba. Rumba is the foundational dance. Yes, it's slow (and perhaps somewhat boring). But it is precisely because it is so slow that it is an excellent dance for learning the fundamentals. Get Rumba down, and you'll be on your way to mastering Cha-Cha.
  • Beat. In cha-cha music, you'll often hear clapping. Or the judges/audience will be clapping. The three claps that they do correspond to when you should be cha-cha'ing. Listen in and look around (like a ninja, of course) and make sure you're on the beat.
  • Toe-Ball-Heel. This is how your foot should be hitting the ground when you take a step. First with the toes, then with the ball, then with the heel. This makes your weight transfer look sexy.

Advanced Concepts

Make Basic Steps Look Interesting
  • We've all been there. Even though we all love our basic steps, it is a tall order to convince an audience to appreciate the hard work we put into them. Never fear! Here are some methods you can use to put your audience on the edge of their seats, while doing nothing but the basic!

  • Let go of the lead-and-follow mentality. Don't get me wrong, there are many aspects of ballroom in which a clear lead and follow is absolutely essential, but the cha-cha basic is not one of them. Let's think about it: both you and your partner know the basic steps so well you can do them in your sleep. She does not need to wait for a lead from her man any more than he needs to wait for her to follow. The outcome of such superfluous coordination is at best phlegmatic. Instead, try adopting a competitive mentality. Here, rather than trying to match each other's steps ("pleasing each other"), you are actively seeking to surpass the other, and hence building a tension which the audience can readily perceive. This plays off an audience's innate desire for conflict and drama (why people watch thrillers, or football). It can be applied in any situation when you and your partner are essentially mirroring each other.

  • Additionally, think about adding dimension to your steps. This can be achieved through leg action, hip movement, arms, or any combination of these. For legs in particular, instead of simply side-to-side placement, think about circling your feet on the upbeats. Don't forget that you can play with timing too. Make your 3s longer, use guapacha timing; all of this will help instill more variety and style into your otherwise boring basic steps.

Baseline
  • Let's talk about arms. They are some of the trickiest parts of cha cha, because they are so free, and so obviously there. Not to mention the music is so fast, there's hardly time to think about what to do with them. How does one simultaneously avoid, on the one hand, looking like a stiff Frankenstein, and on the other hand, imitating a flailing chicken? Well that's what baseline is about.
  • The concept is essentially this. On every whole beat, the arm corresponding to your standing leg must extend your body line. This is a fancy way of saying, straight and relatively flat. It also implies that your body line (which extends from each foot to your active shoulder), needs to exist, and therefore the side of your body where your weight is cannot be collapsed.
  • When doing your basic cha-cha-cha to the right, for instance, your right arm needs to show the 'straight-and-flat'-ness on 4 and 1, because that is where your weight will be.
  • The opposite arm is designated, in this case, the free arm. This is where you can do almost any amount of fancy movement you like, and it will not look bad, as long as you maintain baseline in your other arm. The baseline serves as your anchor, against which other movements are contrasted.
  • (Remember, Latin = contrast!!)

Musical Emphasis
  • Remember how we said up top that there were only 2 key differences between cha-cha basic and rumba basic? Well, we lied; there are actually 3, and as an advanced dancer, it is essential that you understand this.
  • In Rumba, there is slightly more emphasis on the 2 and 4 of each measure. This means that more of your "dancing" will happen on these counts than on their counterparts, the 1 and 3. So, when you do a New York, you will spend slightly more time with your weight on your forward leg (the "2" beat), and this in turn allows you to really extend your figure.
  • In contrast, Cha Cha's emphasis happens on the 1 and the 3, and it is this small difference that gives Cha Cha a completely different feel than Rumba. In the Cha Cha New York, for instance, you spend comparatively more time on your back leg (the "3" beat), causing you to contract your figure.
  • In general. emphasizing the 2 and the 4 facilitates a calm, legato feel, whereas emphasizing the 1 and 3 gives rise to a sharp, energetic feel. Think of two different kinds of springs: one is very loose (low spring constant) and allows for lots of back-and-forth motion, whereas the other is very stiff and allows for only a short range of motion before pulling back. Emphasizing the 1 and 3 simulates a "stiff" spring.
  • In practice, the most important beat in Cha Cha is the 1, so be sure you are clearly defining that beat by transferring your weight on the corresponding step as fast as possible, and by putting maximum energy into the step. As an added bonus, this will also help you keep track of your measures by having that one clearly defined beat at the start of every measure.