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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Grande Battements muscles


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A month or so ago, I was taking open class at Sacramento Ballet. During our grande battements, the teacher noticed that I was lifting my legs into battement, making them heavier and heavier by the end, when I should technically be "throwing" my legs or flinging them upwards from underneath.


She stood behind me while we were doing grande battements in seconde, and at the moment that the battement was supposed to happen, she'd give me a little poke under my thigh or hamstring, like a prick with her finger. I don't know how, but my battements were lighter and higher, and they were an upward flinging motion versus an upward lifting/hauling feeling. I can't seem to duplicate this on my own without someone poking me at the moment of the battement action... what am I doing wrong?


It seems that I can do it and I possess the right muscles to do it, I just can't figure out why I can battement like this if I am getting poked by a finger from beneath versus having no threat of poking.

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Visualization is a very powerful tool! Can you visualize someone poking you there and does it work? Don't worry too much initially about what muscles are working or how it's happening - see if you can just get the same feeling with visualization as with the actual poke.

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I use the image of a circle of energy moving up and over the head and down under the leg to help them feel that the lift comes from the hamstrings and not the quads. Obviously, quads work or the legs would not be straight, however, the motivation/energy for the battement needs to come from underneath. I also have them use an exhale of breath to help feel that energy. They need to understand that upward movements are created by downward movements, so there should be a feeling of going up with the inhale and down to up with the exhale.

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I hadn't even thought about breathing, to be honest. If I'm breathing at all (I know that sounds terrible), then I am for sure inhaling sharply during the motion, not exhaling. Now that I'm analyzing it, each time I get poked, I'm probably exhaling from shock. I'll be trying this.


With visualization, I have tried it, but perhaps I'm thinking and imagine so hard that it causes me to hold my breath - which again, I end up lifting instead of throwing. I'll report back after some practice.

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Do a tendu, inhale as you close to 5th and audibly exhale as you start the grand battement.

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