Cha-cha is the name of a Latin American dance of Cuban origin. It is danced to the music of the same name introduced by Cuban composer and violinist Enrique Jorrín in 1953. This rhythm was developed from the danzón by a syncopation of the fourth beat. The name is onomatopoeic, derived from the rhythm of the güiro (scraper) and the shuffling of the dancers' feet.
Cha-cha-cha may be either danced to authentic Cuban music, or Latin Pop or Latin Rock. The music for the international ballroom cha-cha-cha is energetic and with a steady beat. The Cuban cha-cha-chá is more sensual and may involve complex polyrhythms.
The basic pattern involves the lead (usually the man) taking a checked forward step with the left foot retaining some weight on the right foot, the knee of the right leg must stay straight and close to the back of the left knee, the left leg having straightened just prior to receiving part weight. This step is taken on the second beat of the bar. Full weight is returned to the right leg on the second step (beat three.) The fourth beat is split in two so the count of the next three steps is 4-and-1. These three steps constitute the cha-cha-cha chasse. A step to the side is taken with the left foot, the right foot is half closed towards the left foot (typically leaving both feet under the hips or perhaps closed together), and finally there is a last step to the left with the left foot. The length of the steps in the chasse depend very much on the effect the dancer is attempting to make.
The partner takes a step back on the right foot, the knee being straightened as full weight is taken. The other leg is allowed to remain straight. It is possible it will shoot slightly but no deliberate flexing of the free leg is attempted. This is quite different from technique associated with salsa, for instance. On the next beat (beat three) weight is returned to the left leg. Then a cha-cha-cha chasse is danced RLR.
Each partner is now in a position to dance the bar their partner just danced. Hence the fundamental construction of Cha-cha-cha extends over two bars.