Battement Tendu In Ballet

battement tendu in balletMy pupils often ask me why we need to do battement tendu in ballet. Although it does seem like a mundane exercise, there are many good reasons that dancers should be practising their battement tendu.

Balanchine quoted “If you just do battements tendu well, you don’t have to do anything else.”

I am sure that he exaggerated here, but he does make the point that battement tendu, along with the plie are the very foundation of a ballet dancer’s technique.

What Is A Battement Tendu In Ballet?

Literally translated, the words battement tendu means stretched beating. The dancer takes her straight working leg out along the floor with pressure, to its longest stretched position. The toes remain in contact with the floor at all times, and the foot then returns to a closed position with pressure on the floor.

What is the Purpose of Battement Tendu In Ballet?

Here are some of the main reasons that dancers do battement tendu:

  • to develop strong and supple feet
  • to learn how to move the feet and legs correctly in dance
  • to build the strength and control that the dancer will need to stand on one leg while the other leg works in all directions
  • to learn to articulate the feet
  • to strengthen the ankles

How To Do A Battement Tendu

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Battement Tendu In Ballet

Here are some tips to make sure you are getting the most out of your battement tendu.

  1. Practice leading with your inner thigh to work on your turnout. Keep your inner thigh engaged throughout.
  2. Think about the stability of the working side.
  3. Use your feet and work through the ball of your foot. When your foot is stretched, make sure the ankles and the metatarsal joints are fully stretched.
  4. Make sure your closings are perfect, whether it be first of fifth position.
  5. Feel resistance of the inner thighs on the closings.
  6. Lead with your heel when going out to the front and with your toe as you close. The reverse is true when doing battement tendu derriere.
  7. Keep your upper body controlled throughout.

Variations of Battement Tendu

In ballet class, there will be many variations of this important exercise. The dancer will experience slow and quick combinations as well as some of the ones mentioned below:

  • a battement tendu lowering the ball of the foot in the extended position then repointing it before closing
  • a battement tendu with a pas de cheval
  • a battement tendu flexing the foot in the extended position, then repointing it and closing
  • a battement tendu with a transfer of weight
  • a battement tendu into temps lie

So next time your teacher asks you to do a battement tendu, rather than moaning, think of all the benefits you are gaining as a dancer.

8 thoughts on “Battement Tendu In Ballet”

  1. Hi Michele,

    As usual, your article is absolutely excellent, I really enjoyed the reading!

    My teacher’s name was Michele as well, she was so nice but very hard on us when were dancing:)

    I remember that every single day we were doing battement tendu and even after years of doing this exercise, my teacher was still correcting us, it is not as easy as it seems. What I like about ballet is that we always have to perfect the exercises that we do, no matter which one, even the fingers positions are very important. I love ballet:)

    Thank you for this useful article!

  2. Hey! It’s really that I just found your site because I’m actually at work, beside one of my co-workers that loves to dance.

    She’s actually a dance teacher for kids in our area.

    She’s confirming that your article is excellent. I have no doubt that people fallng on your site will come back for more.

    I’m not that into dance and ballet, but you sure have found a new subscriber (beside me hehe).

    Have a good one.

  3. I have never done ballet before but after reading your article I have a couple of questions. I do a lot of horse back riding and my right ankle is weak when I have not ridden for a while. I think if I did the battement tendu it would strengthen my ankle. My question is I also get cramps in that same foot at times especially when I stretch my toes. How would I cure this?

    • Horse riding and ballet are totally opposite, as in horse riding your heels point down and toes point inwards and in ballet the reverse.

      For a weak ankle the best exercise would be to do slow rises, keeping your weight on your big toes and your heels together. Once you get stronger, then you can try on one foot at a time. Cramping normally happens when you are not getting enough magnesium, salt which is not normally the case or phosphorus. Try Dolomite vitiman tablets.

  4. Well well I learnt two new words today – battement and tendu – so you know I am not a regular visitor to ballet classes but it gives me info to have a conversation with my German daughter who is a professional modern dancer.

    The video was very helpful and I can see myself using the exercise for my daily stretch exercises. a presentation that was simple to follow for all. There were two references in french, perhaps a little translation for us non french viewers.


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