Saturday, June 2, 2012

Battement Tendu

     How is it that such a simple, seemingly uncomplicated move holds so much importance? Battement Tendu, that boring exercise that dancers are forced to practice in every class, is essential to developing impressive technique that amazes audiences.  It may be hard to believe, but in order to perform jaw-dropping leaps, one must first master the tendu.
     I personally never dreaded this humble move, most likely because I actively engaged my mind during each tendu I ever practiced. By evaluating how I was executing the movement, I  determined what needed further refinement, then attempted to carry out the desired changes.  I was never fully satisfied with my own tendus, and no matter how many years had passed since my introduction to them, I always felt like they could be improved upon. Other dancers should also give this rudimentary step the attention it deserves.  The dancers who continually challenge themselves to polish their tendus may be able to expect a greater return for their efforts.
     Most dancers probably realize that tendus are necessary, considering they are included in every class, but I wonder how many dance students truly understand why they are so valuable.     It would be helpful for dancers to know that tendus are used to attain certain critical aspects of ballet, such as:

Strength in the feet and ankles
2.)  Precise articulation of the feet during jumps  Jumping becomes easier and safer when  technique learned from tendus gets carried over to jumps. 
3.) Better balance  Keeping the standing leg steady and strong while the working leg moves and changes positions teaches dancers how to remain on balance during movement.   
4.)  Ingrained habit of pointing the toes Classical ballet requires the toes to be fully stretched.  Regularly pointing the toes for a simple move makes it easier to remember to do so during more difficult steps. 
5.) Awareness of how to work the legs and feet in every movement  Correct tendus call for proper placement while moving the leg, the ability to maintain turnout, remembering to point the toes, brushing through the whole foot, and slight shifts of weight.  These basic skills that are needed for every move in ballet are partially obtained through diligently practicing tendus.     

     George Balanchine expressed his opinion that quality tendus are necessary when he said, “If you just do battement tendu well, you don't have to do anything else.”  If one of the greatest choreographers and major contributors to the ballet world believed in the importance of tendus, than they must be worthwhile.
     These other bloggers wrote some great information about tendus that deserves a look.


  1. I once had a ballet teacher who said: "We work our whole lives for the tendu, but it is never enough." I didn't understand what she meant at the time, but the more I study ballet, the more I see how right she was. Loved this post!