The next instalment for my ballet steps series is the battement tendu. Tendu means 'stretch' or 'reach out' and the movement is a stroking of the foot against the floor from a closed, standing position to pointed and back again.
Battement tendus are typically performed as the second exercise at the barre, after pliés. They have several important functions. They warm up the feet and strengthen the metatarsals (the muscles underneath the ball of the foot). They are also a preparation for numerous other steps - for example, a battement tendu is the beginning 'swish' of a grand jeté (split leap) jump.
The most important thing to remember when performing a battement tendu is that the toes need to stay in contact with and push against the floor. I encourage students to imagine their toes are 'licking' the ground so that each part of the foot only lifts up at the last possible moment as the leg extends. Other common corrections include ensuring the weight is centralised in between tendus, and maintaining posture, turnout and extension of the knee.
Battement tendus can be performed to the front, side and back, from 5th, 3rd and 1st positions and with varying arm lines. They are included in ballet classes both at the barre and in the centre on their own as well as in combination with other movements, such as pirouettes and grands battements.