DT: To remain within the standardized figures of one's dance or explore beyond? Or perhaps the question is how far should the line be pushed. Below is a reprint of a West Coast Swing page made available to Argentine Tango 3 dancers to illustrate one philosophy. Here the writer feels that cha cha steps spice up west coast swing.
Interchanging Cha-Cha Steps with West Coast Swing
If you are unfamiliar with cha-cha, you will have difficulty understanding this page. The idea of interchanging steps from one dance to another is an exciting one to our thinking, but there is a lot of feeling the other way. Anyway, here goes:
Cha Cha is a perfect fit for west coast swing, and the steps for either of the dances may be used in the other. This assumes of course that your partner also knows cha cha.
Just a sugar push
at the start...
...but the gent follows the
lady on 3&4, whereas
normally he does not.
It is the next step that is key...
The gent leads the lady
to a back step by pushing
her left arm away
from him and turning
his body as shown
After the gent cha chas
(triple steps) back bringing
the lady with him, he
leads her to the ...
forward step of the cha
cha. If the lady does not
recognize the change of dance
she may not know it,
or, a verbal lead ("cha cha")
may be in order
Notice that the foot rhythm for west coast 8-count and cha cha are the same:
Step, Step, Tri-ple-Step, Step, Step, Tri-ple-StepFrom West Coast Swing to Cha Cha.... In the above video, the gent leads a west coast swing sugarpush (see section 1a.), and after the final count of the sugarpush, count 6, he begins dancing cha cha steps in the slot. Actually, in the above video, the couple only do one cha-cha sequence before the leader allows her to return to the end of the slot without himself following her. But on a real dance floor, a couple could do as many cha cha figures as they know and they will fit with both the music and the look of the dance.
Step, Step, Cha-cha-cha, Step, Step, Cha-cha-cha
The trick here is to lead a cha cha sequence when most followers will be expecting west coast swing. After the lady has tripled (triple stepped) on 5&6, the leader gently attempts to lead the follower to do the first lady backstep (right step) of the cha cha by moving her right arm in that direction. She may or may not get it. Then the couple steps on 2 and then the leader starts tripling while moving backward -- a rare or never occurance in west coast swing. She knows something is up but she may be looking quisical.
Then the gent does the 2nd cha cha backstep (back step for him, forward step for her) attempting to lead the puzzled lady to follow by moving her left arm in that direction.
When the gent reverses to cha cha-ing forward, if the lady has not recognized the dance, it is time for a verbal lead, "I have switched to cha cha: would you know it?" An alternative would be the most direct route of saying "Cha Cha" before or as soon as the transition is made. Of course, if the partners have danced before, the recognition will be immediate.
...From Cha Cha back to West Coast Swing
How to get back to west coast? It's a matter of getting the lady to the end of the slot with the gent in the middle. In the video above, the couple take the most direct route. The leader simply allows the lady to triple back to the slot without following her. Voila. The gent is in the center and the lady is at the end, and both are positioned to resume west coast swing.
The transitions from west coast swing into and out of cha cha are limited only by one's imagination. Though this page shows only one option for switching, students are encouraged to experiment with others.
DT: At the time of this writing (August, 2002), a cast of swing and tango dancers headed by Mariela Franganillo (Argentine tango) and Robert Royster (Swing) are presenting the show SWANGO (SWing + tANGO) in New York City. We haven't seen it but we understand it may involve what we are talking about here.
Back to Argentine Tango 3, page 10
Copyright @ 2002 by
Dance Tutor, Ltd.