How to do a Grande Battement

Ballet Lesson

Grande battements are an essential step in ballet technique that form a base for more advanced steps including grande allegro.  Ballet students will typically learn how to do a grande battement in a beginner level ballet class.  Learn how to properly do a grande battement with our tutorial below.

How to do a Grande Battement to the front

A grande battement is usually done from fifth position at barre and can be done to the front, side, and back.  We will start with grande battement front.

  1. Position
    Begin by standing at the barre in your best fifth position with your inside hand on the barre and outside arm in high fifth.
  2. Slide your foot like a tendu and degage
    Begin to quickly brush your foot front as if you were going to do a tendu.  Be careful not to sway forward, but keep your weight centered over your standing leg.
  3. Let your leg keep going!
    Continue to brush from a tendu through to a degage position, but don’t stop!  Let your leg continue to have a sweeping feeling as high as it can without sacrificing the position of the rest of your body.
  4. Bring it back to your starting position while keeping control
    Once your leg has reached its maximum height, bring your leg back down through the same way you brushed it up.  In other words, while it should look seamless, try to make sure you very briefly go through your degage and tendu position as you return again to fifth position.

Great job!  If you followed those few steps, you’ll realize that a grande battement isn’t much more than a higher degage.

One of the most recognizable thing about a grande battement is the maximum height a dancer gets her leg.  However, this can quickly get out of hand if that’s the only goal, so every ballet dancer should remember that it isn’t all about height, but a good combination of height and quality! Here’s a few things to keep in mind when you’re first learning how to do a grande battement:

  • Like a tendu or degage, try not to “grip” or tighten your hip in an attempt to force your leg to go higher. This will actually make it harder.
  • Try not to lift your hips just to get your leg higher.
  • Remember to keep your standing leg straight.
  • Also, remember to keep your battement leg straight! (Unless instructed to do a battement en attitude of course.)

How to do a Grande Battement a la seconde (to the side)

A grande battement to the side is similar to the front in that it is technically the same step but now you have a couple more things to think about. Learn how to do a grande battement to the side with our tutorial below.

  1. Position
    Once again, start in fifth position with your inside arm on the barre, but now your outside arm in second position.
  2. Brush like a tendu and degage to the side
    Quickly brush your foot and leg to the side through tendu and degage.
  3. Let it keep going!
    Let your leg go as high as it can without sacrificing your body’s position and keeping your hip down. Remember to keep both of your legs straight!  Your leg should go behind your arm that is in a la seconde.
  4. Bring your leg back down
    Control your leg as you bring it back down, seamlessly through your degage and tendu positions to the side.  This time, close your leg to the back, so now your inside foot is in front in your fifth position!

There you go!  Now you’ve learned how to do a grande battement to the side.  The biggest difference between a grande battement to the front, you may have noticed, that your leg has closed in the opposite position that it started in.

More often than not, you will mostly likely close your leg to the back if you started in the front, or front if you started back. But keep in mind this isn’t always the case, depending on the combination given by the teacher.

How to do a Grande Battement derriere (to the back)

Now that you’ve learned front and side, it is time to learn how to do a grande battement derriere, or to the back.  As before, you will find many similarities, but a couple differences too.

  1. Position
    Once again, start in fifth position with your outside leg in back, inside arm on the barre, but now your outside arm will be in arabesque front.
  2. Brush like a tendu and degage to the back
    Quickly brush your foot and leg to the back through tendu and degage.
  3. Let it keep going!
    Let your leg go as high as it can as you move your upper body slightly forward several inches.  This is absolutely necessary in order to do a grande battement safely to the back, no matter your back flexibility.
  4. Bring it back down
    Finally, like before, bring your leg back down, seamlessly through your degage and tendu positions to the back, maintain control the entire time.  Close in fifth position with your foot in the back.

 

You’re probably seeing a pattern here, and that is a grande battement looks pretty different depending on which direction you’re brushing your leg.

To the back, you need to pay special attention to moving your torso forward just like you would in an arabesque.  With practice, you will discover just how far you need to move.  You don’t want to go too far forward, but also you don’t want to not move enough, so like many other steps in ballet, practice and repetition is the way to become more comfortable with the step!

And that is how you do a grande battement to the front, side, and back in ballet! Now that you’ve made it this far, you may want to go back and review the differences or view our other related online ballet lessons.

 


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