Saturday, January 27, 2018

Modern Dance: Cha Cha Cha, Merengue, and Calypso

The Cha Cha Cha was danced with elbows bent at right angles, chest puffed, feet shuffling snugly side by side. The 'cha' embodied the dance's extra step rhythm. The dance originated in Cuba in the early fifties and was a variation of the double step mamba. The name is thought to be an echoic, deriving from the doing of the dance. Couples only make fleeting contact and for most of the dance each concentrates on their own footwork. Popular with old and young because it allowed youngsters to display individualism and older people were already familiar with the dance steps of the mambo and rumba.

The Merengue originated in the Dominican Republic and incorporated what was known as the 'limp' step.

Legend has it the origin of this strange dance was out of respect for a general with a limp who was trying to dance the samba at a ball. His guests fearful of offending him copied his movements. This affectation was stylised to become a distinctive feature of an otherwise vigorous dance.

Following on from the hits of Harry Belafonte, the Calypso caught on as a dance craze in the US.

Calypso was a Trinidadian dance but the origins of the name remain unknown.

The young Americans soon combined the steps of the Cha Cha Cha with the Calypso to dance the "Cha-lypso" on the new program for youth called "American Bandstand".

The influence of this TV show was immeasurable to new dance crazes and even although each craze only lasted a short time, they came thick and fast throughout the fifties and sixties.

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