My 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.
- Practice leading with your inner thigh to work on your turnout. Keep your inner thigh engaged throughout.
- Think about the stability of the working side.
- 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.
- Make sure your closings are perfect, whether it be first of fifth position.
- Feel resistance of the inner thighs on the closings.
- 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.
- 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.