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Introduction to Aerobics Choreography

Aerobics classes use a specialized set of maneuvers (or choreography), with a specialized vocabulary. There are too many maneuvers to be easily listed, but these are some of the most common.

Don't try to memorize this list before class. Just do what you see the other students doing.

Notation

There is no evidence that a notation exists to describe aerobic maneuvers. Therefore, a notation has been invented specifically for this entry. This notation is text-based, to allow for easy typing, easy downloading, and to fit within the graphical limits of certain publishers. :)

The basic elements of this notation are:

• "======" is a step. Whether or not this is a step movement, a step is shown for reference.
• "A" is a foot (left or right) facing forward, on the floor or step. Which foot is which, should be obvious from reading the notation. The left foot is usually on the left, relative to the facing.
• "V" is a foot facing backward, on the floor.
• "<" is a foot facing left, on the floor. If you only see one of these on the diagram, both feet are next to each other, facing left.
• ">" is a foot facing right, on the floor. If you only see one of these on the diagram, both feet are next to each other, facing right.
• "@" is a foot in the air, facing the same direction as the other foot.
• Putting the symbols together to represent a position, we get:

======
AA

This represents two feet, side by side, facing the step. This is the start position for all maneuvers, unless a different start position is specified.

Positions are put together in groups of four. Each position in the group represents one action (or step) to one beat of music. An example of a basic step (left foot lead) would be:

==A===     ==AA==     ===A==     ======
A                    A          AA

Floor Maneuvers

These maneuvers involve stepping (more or less normally) on the floor.

• March. That's right, just march. The diagram makes it look like you're standing still, but you're raising an alternate leg each time. (This is the only diagram that has that problem.)
======     ======     ======     ======
AA         AA         AA         AA

Sometimes for variety, the teacher makes you march forward and backward. A forward march starts behind and to one side (either right or left) of the step; left is shown here:
======
AA

Here's a forward march, with a knee up at the end.
A         @A
A          A
A======    A======     ======     ======
A

Here's a backward march, knee up at the end, starting where the forward march left off.
A
A          A
======    A======    A======     ======
A          A@

• Step Touch. A simple leg movement, side to side, where you step a leg one direction and move the other leg to meet it, then move back.
======     ======     ======     ======
A  A         AA       A  A       AA

Can be doubled, as in "double step touch". Typically this is followed by a double step touch back, but the instructor might do anything here, like a forward march (which this puts you in good position for).
======     ======     ======     ======
A  A         AA         A  A         AA

• Grapevine. This is a double step touch, but one leg crosses behind the other in between, so you can move farther.
======      ======      ======      ======
A  A           A              A           AA
A           A

• Step Maneuvers

These maneuvers involve stepping normally up onto a step, then back down.

• Basic Step, or "basic" for short. This is like marching, only onto the step. Face the long side of the step. (As a variation, you can face the short side instead.) Step up on the step with one leg, bring the other up, then go back down the way you came.
===A==     ==AA==     ==A===     ======
A                      A         AA

• Tap Up. Stand on one side (either short or long) of the step, facing parallel to that side. The starting position may vary.
======    or    ======    or    ======AA
<            <

Step up with one foot, bring the other up, then go down the side you came. The following diagram assumes you start at the back of the step. Wherever you start, tap up onto the adjacent part of the step and retain your facing.
====<=     ====<=     ====<=     ======
<                     <          <
or
=<====     =<====     =<====     ======
<                     <          <
or
===A== A   ===AA=     ===A== A   ======AA

• Over the Step, or "over" for short. Stand on one side (either short or long) of the step, facing parallel to that side.
======
<

Step up with one foot, bring the other up, then go down the opposite side of the step. The following diagram assumes you start at the back of the step.
<          <
====<=     ====<=     ====<=     ======
<

• A-Step. This is like going over the step, except your legs move forward slightly at one point. This only works when you're starting behind the step to one corner, facing parallel to the step.
======
<

Step up with one foot, bring the other up, then go down the opposite side of the step.
<          <
=<====     =<====     =<====     ======
<

• Diagonal. This is like the A-Step, only you keep moving forward. Start behind the step, facing parallel.
======
<

Step up with one foot, bring the other up, then go down the opposite side of the step, still moving forward.
<          <
==<===     ==<===     ==<===     ======
<

• Turn Step. Starting positions vary for this one. Ideally you should be facing sideways, but some instructors will ask you to do this from a forward facing.
======    or    ======
<             AA

Step up with your feet wide, facing forward; step down to face the side.
====A=     =A==A=     =A====     ======
<                  >          >

• Straddle. This starts with a side facing, with the feet on one or both sides of the step.
<
======    or    ======
<               <

Step up with one foot, bring the other up, then go down with your feet on opposite sides of the step.
<          <
====<=     ====<=     ====<=     ======
<                                <

• Forward-Facing Lunge. This starts with both feet atop the step.
==AA==

Touch the floor behind the step with one foot, then the other.
===A==     ==AA==     ==A===     ==AA==
A                      A

• Side-Facing Lunge. This starts with both feet atop the step.
====<=

Touch the floor on either side of the step with one foot, then the other.
<
====<=     ====<=     ====<=     ====<=
<

• Tap Change. Keep doing the same maneuver you were doing before, but change the lead foot. This only applies to maneuvers where the lead foot doesn't change anyway, like a basic step or V-step.
• Floor or Step Maneuvers

These maneuvers involve putting one foot down, then lifting something on the opposite leg.

• Knee lift, or "knee" for short. Lift the knee.
===A==     ==@A==     ===A==     ======
A                     A          AA

• Side leg lift, or "side" for short. Lift the leg to the side, keeping it straight.
===A==     =@=A==     ===A==     ======
A                     A          AA

• Hamstring curl, or "ham" for short. Curl the lower leg.
===A==     ===A==     ===A==     ======
A          @          A          AA

• V-Step. Alternate marching wide with marching narrow, moving forward on the wide part and backward on the narrow.
====A=     =A==A=     =A====     ======
A                      A         AA

• Combinations

• X-Step. An X-Step is just a V-Step forward (onto the step, if using a step) and then a V-Step backwards. Here's the backward part.

======  ======  ======  ======  ======
^^      ^                ^      ^^
^    ^  ^    ^

• Repeater. Three of something, done without putting both feet fully on the floor. It takes eight beats to do. A knee repeater is shown here.
===A==     ==@A==     ==AA==     ==@A==     ==AA==     ==@A==     ===A==     ======
A                                                                 A          AA

• Double Repeater. Two (not six) of something. This takes six beats, leaving two for something else like a single knee, which puts you atop the step with the other foot leading.
===A==     ==@A==     ==AA==     ==@A==     ===A==     ======     ==A===     ==A@==
A                                           A          AA          A

• L-Step. Knee lift, then move sideways (typically off a step), then knee lift and move back to where you were. This takes eight beats. Four beats of this (either first or last) is, logically enough, called a half-L-step.
===A==     ==@A==   A ===A==   AA======   A ===A==     ==@A==     ==A===     ======
A                                                                  A         AA

• Round the World. This starts with both feet on the floor, usually side facing, but can be started from forward.
======    or    ======
<                AA

One maneuver (single or repeater), straddle, maneuver again, then turn the other way. Continue until you're back to where you started. This takes 16 beats for single, 32 for repeater. The first eight beats of a single knee around the world is shown here.
<          <          @          <          V  V
=<====     =<====     =<====     ======     =<====     =<====     =<====     ======
<          @          <          <

Note that the left foot pivots on the first beat, and the right foot pivots on the eighth.
• Don't Panic

Remember, you don't need to memorize this stuff before going to class. Just do what you see other people doing, and in a month or so, you'll be fine.