// Organic step: Raw, unprocessed, pure

by Marietta Mehanni

Organic step is about going back to the fundamental moves that begin the step choreography process. Learning curves need to build on a solid foundation of raw, unprocessed moves and progress simply and logically into the next move. Without this, we cannot ensure the success of our classes.

What are Organic Base Moves ?

Organic Base Moves are standard step moves that have not been combined with other moves or altered or modified with:

• A speed change
• A rhythm change
• A directional change
• A travel change
• An intensity change.

These are the fundamental moves that beginners need to learn before they can progress into more advanced class types or levels. Starting with raw moves from the three categories below, an instructor can provide a moderate to high intensity workout.

Processing moves further will depend on the success of the learning curves.

Basic step

Any marching type activities such as:

• Mambos
• Across or over the top
• Stomps
• Walking around step.

Alternating leg change

• Knee lift, leg curl, flick kick, leg extensions
• Repeaters.

Alternating lunge or tap

• From the top: side lunge
• From the top: back lunge
• From the floor: toe or heel tap.

The secret behind any great teacher, in any field, is their ability to teach anything simply – and teaching freestyle step is no different. Great group exercise instructors are aware of their own and their participant’s abilities and limitations.

If the progressions through the layers are gradual, then participants will feel like they are achieving. The instructor will also have more opportunities to judge their competency level and whether they are ready for the next layer. Remember, a class that involves choreography can only be fun if everyone is achieving and feeling confident.

What are good learning curves ?

When it comes to learning curves, consider the following questions:
1. What are the raw base moves for each piece of choreography?
2. Logic – should the first move be taught first?
3. In what order should layering be taught?
4. Is it possible to teach right and left sides simultaneously throughout the class?
5. Is the routine tap-free so it flows logically onto the next leg/move?

Holding patterns are an instructor ’s best friend

Holding patterns are organic moves which:

• Increase intensity between low intensity moves or learning curves

• Give participants an opportunity to catch up or have a ‘brain break’ between complex moves

• Fill out the counts required to complete the block

• Can be used to help alternate sides from right to left so that the choreography can be taught on both sides simultaneously. This avoids having to teach everything again ‘on the other leg’ and overuse of certain muscle groups.

Routine methodology

You will need to decide upon the best method for developing choreography from your organic base moves. There are a few ways to break down a routine;

1. The ‘add on’ method. This is great for routines where one move equals 16 counts.

2. The link method. Teaching moves A+B, moves C+D and then adding them all together, i.e. a+b+c+d.

This is an effective method for routines where all the moves fit neatly into 8 counts.

3. The layer method. Teach all the organic moves and then gradually layer each of the moves.

Ha ve plan A, plan B an d plan C If your routines always start from organic base moves, you will always ‘win’. We have all walked out of that class – you know, the one where nothing works. Read your participants and see if they are having difficulty with a particular move. Avoid persisting with that move if the class continues having trouble with it and simply move on to something else.

Below is the breakdown of a routine demonstrating how organic moves layer and change into interesting choreography that participants can follow and enjoy.

Learning Curves

Organic move: Knee lift
1. Layer: 3 x knee repeater
2. Add: 3 x knee repeater and organic move, 2 x alt leg curl
3. Layer: 2 x knee repeater and 4 x marches and 2 x alt leg curl
4. Layer: 2 x knee repeater and box step and 2 x alt leg curl
5. Organic moves: 2 x basic step and 3 x kick repeater

6. Layer to organic moves: 2 x stomps, 4 x marches and 3 x kick repeater
7. Layer: 2 x stomps around the corner, 4 x marches and 3 x kick repeater
8. Holding pattern, organic move: leg curl, demonstrate 2 x stomps around the corner, 2 x shuffles, 2 x kick repeater and add organic moves 1 x stomp, 2 x basic step and 3 x knee repeater
9. Add together: 2 x knee repeater box step, 2 x stomps around the corner, 2 x shuffles, 2 x kick repeater and 2 x basic step
10. Organic moves: 5 x kick repeater and 1 x basic step
11. Layer: 1 x kick cha cha backwards and 2 x kick repeater and 1 x basic
12. Layer: 1 x kick, cha cha backwards, cha cha forwards, ‘Rewind and fast forward’ and organic moves 4 x marches and 1 x basic step

13. Add: 1 x kick, rewind and fast forward, organic moves 8 x marches around step and 4 x basic steps
14. Layer: 1 x kick, rewind and fast forward, 3 x marches around step ‘Cut the corner’ and organic moves 4 x marches on the step,1 x stomp and 3 x basic step
15. Layer: 1 x kick, rewind and fast forward, cut the corner, 4 x jogs on the step, 1 x stomp and 3 x basic step
16. Layer: 1 x kick, rewind and fast forward, cut the corner, 4 x pendulum swing on step, 1 x stomp and 3 x basic step
17. Add together: 2 x knee repeater box step, 2 x stomps around the corner, 2 x shuffles, 1 x kick, rewind and fast forward, cut the corner, and 4 x pendulum swing on step.


Marietta Mehanni
Recipient of the 2007 Australian Fitness Network Author of the Year award, Marietta is also an award-winning instructor and presenter with over 17 years of teaching experience in both land and water-based group exercise. Recently qualified for international accredition (AFAA and ACE), she presents regularly at national and international conventions. Marietta is also a course coordinator, lecturer and examiner for Certificate III in group exercise and aqua exercise leadership.

 NETWORK MAGAZINE • WINTER 2008 • PP23-27