Sharing The Joy Of Dancing


Men, in general, try to make all of the steps in a pattern feel the same. This can cause the pattern to feel panicky and out of control. The leg/foot speed (referred to only as foot speed from here on) can be different from step to step in a pattern because the foot travels further, the timing is different; there is a weight change without a foot movement, etc.

Let's look at an American Style Cha Cha "Left Side Basic" element. It contains steps of different sizes, speeds, timings, etc. An element is generally a measure of music. A "left basic element" is described as: side-left, break-back, in-place, forward slightly right, side-right together. The timing of the element is "1, 2, 3, 4, &". Three whole beats and two half-beats (4 beats total). It can also be counted "1, 2, 3, Cha, Cha".

A completed step in Latin or Rhythm dancing is: a complete weight change from one foot to the other with the new free foot remaining in place. The foot movement always precedes the body's weight change. Fundamentally there are two actions to the step, the foot movement then the body weight movement.

Let's analyze the element from the leader's point of view using Figure 1.

Start) - Feet together weight on right foot.
     a) - whole beat Side Left: Left foot moves left, Right (free) foot stays in place. Foot moves first then the body weight moves. I am going to use this step as a "standard" for time comparisons to the other steps because it is a very typical Latin/Rhythm step.
     b) - whole beat Break Backward: Right foot moves diagonally backward. Left foot stays in-place. Foot moves first then the body weight moves. It is obvious that this step is physically longer than our comparison step "a", but both steps each consume one whole beat. That means that the foot speed has to be faster to move a longer distance in the same amount of time. Step "b" is faster than step "a" because if its geometry.
    c) - whole beat In-Place: The body weight moves but there is no physical foot movement. The body weight is moved from foot to foot but must still consume the whole beat of music. This step is slow physically compared to our standard step "a" and even slower compared to step "b".
    d) - half beat (cha) Forward slightly to right: Right foot moves forward slightly to the right (under the right shoulder). The foot moves first then the body weight moves. This is a very slightly diagonal step that makes it a little longer in length but only uses a beat of music. The weight change is also slight. In my opinion, this step feels about the same as our standard comparison step even though it is accomplished in beat. There is just not a lot going on physically.
    e) - half beat (cha) Side-Right Together: Left foot moves right together beside the right foot. The foot moves first then the body weight moves. Again, only a beat consumed and not much going on physically. This feels even slower than our standard step.

It is clear to deduce from the above that none of the five steps feel or are the same. In fact, the CHA CHA steps (1/2 beat steps) are the slowest physically of the five. I know that this is startling news to most men. Men are always stressing over the CHA CHA beat steps. It has been my experience that most men dance CHA CHA too fast. If you approach patterns from a physics and geometry aspect, your mind will be set free.

You need to analyze your dance patterns as you work on them and I think you will be surprised how this will change the feeling of your dancing.