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Cha-Cha-Cha

Very few music-and-dance genres can be attributed to a single composer. Yet Enrique Jorrín knew he was on to something when he noticed audiences enthusiastically responding to the short refrains belted out by his singers. A variation of Mambo, this musical form (originally known as Mambo-Rumba) got its name from the sound of the dancers’ feet grazing the floor on three successive beats: cha-cha-cha.

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The music of Cuba is largely based on its cultural origins in Europe and Africa. The arrival on the island of thousands of African slaves over the course of three hundred years created a wealth of new musical forms. Deeply rooted in African rhythms, the country’s distinctive music owes its melodic power to its Spanish colonial heritage. The lively, energetic Cuban sound has profoundly influenced musical styles throughout the world, an impact that continues to this day. Distinct dance forms, related to specific types of music, over time have cross-pollinated, evolving into new styles of expression.