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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Petits battements


K123

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Does anyone have any tips for doing things like battements frappes fouettes and petits battements (apologies for any bad spelling) where you need to hold the upper leg still, relax the knee and let the lower leg beat freely. I think I understand the concept but I just can't seem to be able to relax my knee and yet keep my thigh still. I either hold both or neither. I have a feeling this must have something to do with overusing the quads which is one of my many sins, but I'm not sure how to get past it. My teacher says that petit battement should have the feeling you have when you are sitting on a table swinging your feet, as free as that, but I find it very hard to isolate the lower leg.

 

Any ideas??

 

K.

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I would suggest practicing outside of class by doing them very very slowly, so slow that your knee is remaining still while your foot is moving. If you feel the need, you might put a finger on the knee just to keep it quiet while doing the exercise. After 100 or so, you’ll likely have the essentials of the movement down.

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You might already have tried this, but one of my teachers had us do them with relaxed lower leg and feet. So that you just use your lower leg as a pendulum. You could as Garytech suggests, do that outside class just to get a feeling of it. Then it might be easier to do it with pointed or flexed feet.

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This relates to the extensive discussions on lifting the leg in developpe etc which have gone on elsewhere on the board. You have to lift the thigh with the adductors (inner thigh muscles) and not with the quads at all, since the quads cross the knee joint (i.e. they extend the knee as well), and if you use the quads to lift the leg, you will not be able to isolate the movements in the upper and lower parts of the leg. The feeling is pushing up from under the thigh and lifting with the inner side of the thigh, and, as was said above, relaxing the lower leg so it swings like a pendulum.

 

Obviously, this isolation of the upper and lower parts of the leg, and using the adductors and not the quads to lift the leg, is not easy, that is why so many exercises are devoted to it, and we are having so many discussions about it. Just getting to grips with it myself, thanks to messages on this board.

 

My teacher just told me another exercise for this isolation, which I'm happy to give if asked, but this post is rather long already so I wont now.

 

Jim.

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Are you following a specific method? I find petit battements much harder in Cecchetti than in RAD. This is mainly due to the lower position of the foot in Cecchetti, wich makes it for me more difficult to relax the knee.

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Thanks for the help everyone.

 

I know what you mean, Jim, I know that I am using the quads too much and have been trying to really think from the back of the leg and think of rotating rather than 'holding' turnout. It's hard, sometimes I feel I'm improving a bit, but for some reason it all goes to pot when I have to move the bottom part of my leg - proves I'm really not getting it I suppose - I'd be very glad of that other exercise you mentioned if you feel like posting it. :)

 

And D_S_L - I do the same method as you, with the same teacher!! - the RAD anyway (see you Wednesday! :wacko: ) But also do a couple of other non syllabus classes during the week. I suppose a lot must depend on the proportions of your leg/height etc as to whether it is easy to relax the knee in certain positions and with the thigh at certain heights. What is the cecchetti style of petits battements? is it done with a flexed or a pointed foot, or a wrapped foot like the RAD?

 

 

K

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K123 - the exercise is to lie on your back, knees bent up. Feel with one hand in your hip, in a little hollow at the top of the thigh, just below the hip bone, and near the centre line of the leg. If you lift your leg a little, you will feel the muscle in the hollow bunch up (part of the quads working). Put the other hand over the adductors on the inner thigh.

 

Now get someone to provide a resistance to your knee, so that you have to work to bring your leg in towards the centre. You should feel the inner thigh muscle tensing, but there should be no tension in the hollow of the hip (showing the quads arent working).

 

If that's easy, you can challenge yourself more, by standing up, feeling with your fingers in the hollow of the thigh, and try to lift the leg without the quads tensing.

 

Jim.

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I second Garyecht, in that th eonly way to really get it sorted is to practice endlessly. Whilst waiting for the kettle to boil, whilst brushing your teeth, everywhere you can. Also, I am trying to remember way back when I first learnt them as a teenager and I vaguely remember being allowed in the very beginning to place the palm onto the lower part of the thigh , near the knee. for some reason feeling the pressure of your hand, made you remember to stop using your entire leg and concentrate on using your lower part of the leg. Of course after a while you would let go, et voila!

 

Do you get this problem in rond de jambes? because essentially you have the same problem there also. Keeping the upper leg still and just rotating the lower part of the leg.

 

Jeanette

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And D_S_L - I do the same method as you, with the same teacher!! - the RAD anyway (see you Wednesday! B) )

 

Hi K. Welcome to BT4D :shrug::wacko:

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Yes, Xena, I do get the same thing with ronds de jambe, although not as bad, because I think I am thinking of the oblique circle that you make with a rond and that sense of rotation helps me to use the turn out muscles and rotate rather than grip to hold my thigh in place (if that makes sense). But with these movements that essentially involve bringing the lower leg straight in and out I seem to get all linear and for some reason the quads kick in... Anyway, you are probably right, just lots of practice is required...I already spend most of my kitchen time and time queuing in shops rising up and down to strengthen my ankles so I'll throw in some battement, I don't mind a few more funny looks!

 

I will try your exercise too Jim. I went to my first gyrotonics session the other day and we focussed a lot on moving the leg from underneath and trying to free up the front of the hip. Similar sounding exercises. Have you done any gyrotonics?

 

Hi D_S_L. Thanks for the welcome. Good to see you today :party:

 

K.

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K123 - no I havent done gyrotonics - I've heard it mentioned before, and tried to find out about it, but couldnt find much - certainly not enough to do it. But I'll keep my eyes open in case I came across an opportunity, because I'd love to learn about it.

 

Jim.

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