Learning Choreography, Les Mills™ Instructors!

Choreography Notes
Choreography Notes

All the time instructors discuss the best way to study and remember different choreography.  But there is nothing called the best way, there is the best way for each one of us. Studying choreography needs some attention, and people learn in different ways, taking in consideration their different skills and mind-sets. Some people depend on what they read,  others depend on what they see and some depend on what they hear. People are different and they learn in different ways.

I have seen people learning in different ways and I have also read different discussions over Les Mills forums, as instructors there also discuss all the time ways to learn their choreography, here are some basic tips!

  • Learn your music:

It’s important to keep listening to the music over and over till you know it by heart. It’s important to be able to know when are the changes in the music are coming, (verses, pre-choruses, chorus, bridges etc). This is going to help you learn the choreography faster. 

It’s possible to listen to music everywhere now, and we all get stuck in traffic, use that and listen to your tracks, or in the office, while gardening, washing the dishes or surfing online.

  • Watch your DVD:

Some people once they get their new releases rush to watch their DVDs. For me I would do that to see if there are any new ideas in the new release, but none of what I’d see in the DVD would stick to my head from the first glance. But for some people it works perfectly fine, they watch it twice or thrice and it’s all in their heads! Magic, right?

In case you are not a visual learner, you will have to stick to option one first.

  • Read your choreography notes:

Reading the notes helps us find our bases or hints to study. Some of you might just listen to their music and follow choreography notes, reading them carefully a few times without the need to see what’s happening in the DVD.

Some people’s brains register what’s being written or read, so you might be one of these who’d rather read something to remember it.

Choreography Notes

Choreography Notes

What if sticking to one method only doesn’t help?

Then you should try and combine methods together. For me I listen to the music first till it’s in my head, then I pick up the choreography notes and I follow while listening to music. Once I memorize it, I might try and script it, and at the end I watch the DVD to see and visualize what I learned.

Some people actually follow the DVD physically, they push play and apply whatever is in there over and over till their bodies get used to it, like Wii games.

Some people find it effective to practice together in pairs or groups to learn together, others find that disturbing, or a waste of time.

Once I have gone through an online discussion over this matter, and one instructor suggested a very cool way to study and learn choreography, which I actually tried and liked a lot, here it is:

write on a piece of paper, after watching the DVD or reading the choreography notes, the choreography your own way, the simplest way possible for you to understand. If you use the subway or lots of trains, you can benefit from the time spent there by listening to your music and following your own notes. Or while driving and getting stuck in traffic you can stick that paper in front of you, say over the CD player, while listening to your music follow the notes you’ve written, if you do that over and over you will be able to learn your choreography easily. For me this works and I learn this way faster.

PLEASE! Be careful while driving, I don’t wanna be the reason if anyone of you gets hurt! try the previous only when you are stuck in traffic!

Good luck learning new releases, be creative and let me also know how do you learn your choreo!

Kia Kaha!


  1. Hi guys, I usually try and learn one release @ a time, I have 5 to learn in one hit, so priorities the programmes in order of easy- hard or dependant on which is being launched 1st. I listen to the music in the car first, then watch DVD, then do with DVD, then attempted to do it solo without DVD. Often go wrong so resort back to DVD then it goes in… Phew

  2. I learn by a combination. Listen to music first, look at notes, watch all Education then DVD master class. Then I break tracks up in my mind into blocks. I teach Pump and my team and I practice at least 10-12 times together. We discuss everything, go over tracks and that makes all the difference.

  3. I learn differently for each program I teach. BodyBalance I have to have the DVD..Usually for RPM I can listen to the music then read the notes and I am good, I hardly ever watch the DVD unless I just want to hear how some cuing is done, Pump is my easiest program to learn, unless there is something new or a beat I can’t catch I can learn it strictly from music and the chorey.

  4. Hi guys, I’m a BodyCombat instructor and also a psychscience major. (i say this because it applies to my response)
    We have a neurons in our brains called mirror neurons. This will fire when you copy someones actions, and aid in the firing neighboring neurons to join in too, results in a quicker response time when you replicate the action thus its our brains little learning aid. What i’m getting at here s that working out WITH the DVD is a great way of studying the chorey as it helps activate those mirror neurons as well as gives you two ways to recall what you have learnt: (through body actions, and mental processes). Those who study with the DVD: do you notice sometimes your body recalls a movement only then for your head to say “oh yeah! that’s what was next!”….(or is that just me? :O)
    In saying that, we all get busy so I know working out to the DVD isn’t always practical: I listen to the CD in the car non stop! and even if im not actively recalling the movements in my head, i am familiarizing myself with tiny music cues that help when you hit a mental blank!
    Again, i know everyone has their own special way, but i thought it was a great opportunity to apply what i know about the brain into the real world, and hopefully now you know all the pros of learning with the DVD, you may give it a go with the next release 🙂

  5. Learning choreo how it works for me is;
    First week after getting DVD/CD Pack from Les Mills just listening the music; in the car, in my iPod, just non stop 10 tracks. It is a phase to get each beat and each detail of the track.
    Phase two – check choreo notes from Dan and Rachel, practice any new moves and focuse on tips.
    Phase three – standing in front of PC and practicing track by track, repeating cues. After close my eyes and feel the music.
    Phase four – music only, playing from PC and doin choreo. Pure choreo.
    Phase five – at the empty gym, full on, music and full coaching and teaching in front of mirror.
    After all of that – let’s fun beggin!

  6. Well that’s exactly why I want to go on a double licence Science & Philosophy next year! And at the same time pass some lesmills instructor certificates !

    Nice article! Loved it 🙂

  7. Nikki Laing wrote on Facebook:

    Hi Katia . I learn Chorey by watching the Release and reading the notes. The first time I’m looking for patterns in the exercises or tempos. Then I watch it again and follow along in my living room or take my iPad and do it in the gym. The third time I practice I am just listening to the music and reading the notes so I can hear when a rep starts or stops. By the fourth time, I’m ready to turn on the music and try it at the gym. I also listen to the music in my car, at work, etc so I know all the in’s and out’s of a track musically. I also script my cues following the Layers of coaching model. This also helps me focus on giving the right cue at the right time in the Chorey. Hope this helps!

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