improve your battement

Expert Cues to Conquer the Grand Battement

An integral move for the foundation of ballet is the battement. The beauty of its elegance and control is mesmerizing. With apparent ease and with the rest of your body in pause, the movement consists of an extension of the leg to the front, side, or back, either repeatedly or as a single movement. A grand battement is when the leg is lifted to hip level or higher and held straight. This is not just about grace but calculated control. The grand battement is a very important base step that helps with flexibility, jumps, and stability. It’s the beginning of a grand jeté, the farthest push of your body in space and movement. Take your grand battement to knew heights with these BFW tips.

Be Free

Most students are still working on their flexibility. One instructor recommends that you “throw” your legs, rather than trying to control them on the way up. Explore the limits of your extension by allowing your leg to have freedom so that it can reach a bit higher.

Sustain your Balance

The freedom you want to cultivate must be supported by a strong standing side or the force of the battement will pull you off-balance. Make sure your standing leg is pushing on the earth underneath you. After “throwing” the working leg skyward, control it on the way down, so it returns cleanly into fifth through tendu.

Forward and then Side

Begin the movement from the inside of the leg and the heel to assure that the leg moves with the turnout. Practicing grand battements with a flexed foot can assist you in finding and employing your interior muscles.

Backward

Lead with the toes going back to engage the turnout. Some experts observe a common mistake of dancers trying to keep their hips square, causing the back leg to turn in. The hard balance is in opening the hip without allowing the standing hip to go with it, or the glutes to let go. Another key suggestion is that “you don’t want to pinch your back.” Allow space for the leg to go up by taking the chest forward, creating “a little body diagonal.”

Don’t think small; think big!

As you dance, your whole body is breathing. You expand and then come back to the center. Use that, even in a grand battement. There is energy in your body beyond your leg or the top of your hand. Understanding that you have that type of length takes your dancing to another level.

One more suggestion

Think of grand battements as a prep for what’s next. When you are on the barre, it’s the final exercise. You have been preparing for the turnout of your standing side during the whole barre. How strong have you been holding that side? Are you ready to go to the center? Mind preparation will get your body ready.

 

 

Over to you: What works for you? Send us your ideas to editor@balletforwomen.com. To practice these and other tips in class, book your next virtual ballet session at Ballet For Women and get more recommendations from our knowledgeable instructors.