Battement is a term for various movements in which the leg is extended and then returned. A beating action for the extended or bent leg. It is also one of those terms like pas and temps that are frequently omitted but understood. For example, frappe is short for battement frappe, tendu is short for battement tendu and so forth. Battements are so much a part of barre work that a ballet class can not do any warmup without some sort of battement being involved.
Battement Tendu meaning stretched beat. In class the term tendu is normally used for short. In excuting a battement tendu the dancer slides the working foot out until only the toes are touching the floor. The working extended foot never leaves the floor. It slides devant, a la seconde or derriere from fifth or first position to reach fourth or second position. The heel is lifted off the floor stretching the instep. Both knees must be kept straight. Then the foot slides back to the original position. Battement tendu is an important exercise for learning to move the foot quickly and gracefully while maintaining placement. It is the beginning preparation for other barre work such as ronde jambe attere or grande battement. Battement tendu is also the beginning movement for a piorette preparation and most movements traveling across the floor. Balanchine considered it the most important exercise in all of ballet.
Battement Soutenu meaning sustained beat. Battement soutenu is performed smoothly and slowly from fifth position or first position. The dancer slides the working foot out until only the toes are touching the floor. The working, extended foot never leaves the floor. It slides devant, a la seconde or derriere. The heel is lifted off the floor stretching the instep of working foot, while the supporting leg is lowered to demi-plié. Then the foot slides back to the original position while the supporting leg straightens.
Battement Degage meaning disengaged battement (battement degage – Ceccetti method) (battement tendu jete - Russian method, battement glisse -French method). Battement degage is a quick battement similar to battement tendu, in which the leg is normally only lifted up to two or three inches off the floor with a well pointed foot. The working leg is lifted devant, a la seconde or derriere from fifth or first position to reach fourth or second position. Normally in this exercise, the accent of the movement is with the downbeat of the music an is on the closing in of the feet, as opposed to the extending of the leg. Battements degages strengthen the toes, develop the instep and improve the flexibility of the ankle joint.
Battement Frappe meaning struck battement. In battement frappe, the foot moves from a flexed or sur le cou-de-pied position, wrapped around the ankle, of the supporting leg, and extends out to a straight position quickly and forcefully, and by doing so hitting the floor. Battements frappes can be executed double, with beats alternating front and back of the standing leg’s ankle before striking out. The exercise forcefully extends the working leg from a sur le cou de pied position to the devant, a la seconde or derriere and back again. This exercise strengthens the toes and insteps and develops the power of elevation.
Battement Fondu meaning melted battement. Battement fondu is a battement that is usually done slower than other battements. It begins from sur le cou de pied position of the supporting leg which is in plie and extends until both legs are straight. The working leg can end up on the floor a terre or off the floor en l’air. It can be executed double and is normallydone en croix .
Petit Battement meaning little beat. An exercise for speed and agility in the lower leg. In the starting position, the working leg is sur le cou-de-pied. It opens in the direction of second position but only half way, as the leg does not fully extend at the knee. The working leg then closes to sur le cou-de-pied opposite of where it started. The knee and thigh stay in the same place and do not move during the process. The bending action is at the knee, while the upper leg and thigh remain still. The working foot quickly alternates from the sur le cou-de-pied position in the front to the cou-de-pied position in the back.
Battement Developpe meaning developed battement. Battement developpe is usually a slow battement in which the leg is first lifted to a posse position, retire devante, pointed at the knee, then fully extended or unfolded passing through attitude devant, a la seconde or derriere position.
Grande Battement meaning big beat. Grande Battement is a powerful battement in which the working leg is raised from the hip into the air and brought down again. The accent being on the downward movement, both knees must remain straight. Tthe rest of the body remaining still and no movement is the shoulders should be noticed. The function of grande battement is to loosen the hip joints and turn out the legs from the hips. Grande battement can be done devant, derrière and a la seconde beginning and closing in first or fifth position.
Grande Battement Lent meaning slow beat. Grande battement lent is a slow battement, normally taken as high as possible, which involves considerable control and strength. Both legs remain straight for the whole duration of the excerise. The working leg begins in either first position or fifth position and returns to the same in either devant, a la seconde or derriere.
Grande Battement en Cloche meaning grande battement like a bell. Grande battement en cloche is in which the leg does a grande battement and swings continually between fourth position devant and fourth position derriere. The body must be held erect and still as the leg passes through first position.
Grande Battement en Balancoire meaning battement like a seesaw. Grande battement en balancoire the dancer swings the working leg vigorously devant and derriere between fourth position devant and fourth derriere, passing through first position. Unlike grande battement en cloche, balancoires do not require that the body be held straight but to have a slight tilt opposite to the direction of the working leg.