Improving Your Tendus

Hi everybody!  Today I’m here with a technique tip for your tendus.  This is the first technique tip I have ever done on this blog, for a bit of a disclaimer.  Tell me if you have any pointers, advice, or feedback in the comment section below!

The Basics

battement tendu ∙ a beating stretch.

My guess is that you’re already doing something wrong.  Just by reading over the translation of tendu from French to English, there are already a billion different things that could be going wrong when you execute the step.

Let’s go over some basic corrections that you probably hear when you do tendus in class:

  • Lengthen your leg.
  • Rotate your leg.
  • Shape your working foot.
  • Don’t sit into your supporting hip.
  • Pull up!
  • Brush the floor.

But…what other times of class do you hear these corrections?  Well…during every combination!  These corrections listed here are neutral ones.  Now, don’t get me wrong, all of the things previously listed are completely necessary to tendu, but here we are going to dig a level deeper.  Let’s examine the muscles that allow us to do these corrections correctly (haha), and find what allows us to achieve these items so that we can take it another level (executing other types of battements).

The Importance of Tendus

The technical name for a tendu is a battement tendu. As you saw earlier, it means a beating stretch.  For now, ignore the stretched part, and just look at the beating part of the term.  Battement.Which other steps have the name battement in them?  Well … there’s a dégagé, grand battement, and frappé.  What are you doing in all of these steps?  You are lengthening the leg, rotating the leg, brushing the floor, lifting out of your supporting hip, pulling up, shaping the working foot, etc.  All of those things are listed in our correction book for tendus.  So, these general corrections apply to ALL battements, including the simplest of the battements, the tendu.

So, if we can figure out how to do a perfect tendu, we can achieve all of the other battements at a faster tempo.  But, regardless of the aid of a tendu to the other battements, they all do have their own individual technique and importance, but learning the tendu correctly can give you huge benefits.

The Muscles

What muscles do we use in a tendu devant, alisicon, and derrière?  How can I find them?  Well…

(Please leave feedback below if this format works!  I have included special diagrams and explanations of muscles that are particularly vital in the step and put the other “usual” muscles that we use subconsciously on a slide altogether [the basic ballet muscles].  Again, please leave feedback!)

Battements Tendu Devant and Alisicon(click on thumbnail for more description)

Battement Tendu Derrière(click on thumbnail for more description)

Your Corrections…How To

So, remember way back when you read that list of corrections that teachers give all the time for tendus?  Well, now we’re going to answer those questions and take them to a deeper level.

How do I lengthen my leg?

Good question.  Start by thinking of pushing something away from your body with your toes.  That will get your leg as long as possible.  But, you may notice that when you do this your hip placement gets completely lost.  Good catch.  Well, you can fix this by engaging your iliopsoas if your leg is devant or alisicon, or your abdominals if your leg is derrière.

How do I rotate my leg?

You can rotate your leg by using your quadratus femoris, a small, deep muscle of the hip.  This muscle is vital to they way that ballet dancers laterally rotate their legs.

How do I shape my working foot?

This is possible by strengthening and engaging the outside of your calf and the muscles on the outside of your ankle and foot.  You can strengthen these muscles by doing exercises for your feet using resistance bands, or by practicing a common point/flex or sickle/wing.

How do I lift up and out of my supporting hip and pull up?

This correction can be a bit hard to grasp and will take some practice before you get it right.  For this, you need to be lifted and pulled up.  I like to think of filling the negative space above my head while engaging my core.  A lot of people like to think of the following analogies to help with this.  Try them out to see if any work for you.

  • Fill the negative space above your head.
  • Zip up a really tight pair of jeans.
  • Grow roots down through the floor.
  • Push down through the floor to pull up.
  • Touch your head to the ceiling.

Please leave a comment below if your teachers tell you any other ones and I’ll add them to the list!

How do I brush the floor?

This is not as much about anatomy and digging deeper than it is just consciously telling yourself to do this.  Not brushing in your battements is a common problem, and it usually becomes a bad habit for most people.  The first step to destroying your bad habits is awareness.  Your brain is the control center for everything you do, so technically if you’re consciously thinking about brushing, you WILL do it.  It just takes a little bit of practice.

You can also try doing some really slow tendus on your own time and thinking about this correction.

A lot of people have trouble brushing the floor while maintaining your body weight placement and keeping it over your supporting leg.  If you THINK about articulating the feet, this problem will be solved.  This is because a lot of people don’t know how to properly articulate their feet, so they end up just putting weight into their working leg and “forcing a brush” rather than actually breaking their habit.

To learn how to properly articulate your feet, try some slow resistance band exercises.

I really hope that this tutorial on tendus helps you.  Please request more tutorials and other posts on the Requests page.  I will get to them ASAP if you do!  Thank you for reading this article, and, as always, don’t hesitate to leave any questions, comments, or feedback in the section below.

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