How to Execute Tendu Correctly: The Way of the “Tendu”

“Tendu” means to Stretch. The full complete term is “Battement Tendu” which means a Stretched Beat but for short, we’ll just call it Tendu. So, in the execution of a Tendu, your legs have to open (stretch away either to the front, side or back) and then close either in 1st or 5th position. If you open your leg and not close, that is called Degage (to disengage).


Points to Remember:

  • Tendu is executed terre a terre, that is along the floor. At NO point in the movement, should the toes leave the floor throughout the duration of the exercise.

  • The knees of both legs should be stretched at all times during the exercise to strengthen the knees. If this exercise is done in a haphazard manner, bending knees and not turning the legs, etc, then the whole purpose of executing this step is wasted.

  • Full weight should be placed on the supporting leg. No weight should be placed on the working leg and toes.

  • This exercise is done to the front, side and back to train students to recognise intrinsically where is their front, side and back. This will aid them to dance safely later as they execute Battement Jete, Grand Battement and jumps in all directions.

  • In executing the movement of the working leg away from the supporting leg, keep the hip “square front” and over the supporting toes. Do not allow hip to follow the movement of the leg or twist the hip in an attempt to turnout the working leg (forgetting the turnout of the standing leg). This will distort alignment which is crucial for balances and turns like pirouettes, flic-flac entournant, etc..

  • Before you begin a Tendu:

    • First transfer your weight to the supporting leg as you can only Tendu with one leg at a time.

    • Take special note Not to “sit” on your supporting leg, that is to let the weight of your hip (of the supporting leg) “hang” over your supporting leg instead of lifting it up and over your supporting toes. This also help in turning out the supporting leg.

    • Maintain the Basic Stance (hip directly under shoulder) throughout the whole exercise.

Bearing the above mentioned in mind…

In executing the Opening Movement of Tendu Devant (either from 1st or 5th):

  1. First, transfer your weight to the supporting leg (as mentioned above).

  2. Then, release the heel of your working leg from the floor only slightly so that you can slide the foot forward (hint: in the direction of your nose) while still turning out the whole leg. The heel is leading the foot and toes to stretch to a high demi-pointe position (avoid sickling foot). The “leading by the heel” action helps students to consciously maintain the turnout of the whole leg.

  3. As you continue to stretch the legs forward along the floor, lift the whole leg up enough so that you can extend the foot forward to point your toes on the floor.
    Note:
    * Do not “bounce” the toes to point your foot as you are to stretch the toes, extending it to a full point.
    * Do not curl the toes under or put weight on it as that will cause inflammation behind your heel if you do this often enough. Also, serious injuries may happen should you lose balance and fall in the direction of your toes.

  4. This process of whole foot on floor to high demi-pointe to full pointe a terre is called “Foot Articulation”.

  5. Keep stretching the whole leg down into the floor and beyond while turning it out at the same time. (Remember to turnout your supporting leg too.) If this is done correctly everyday, the shape of your leg and thigh muscles will change to be longer and leaner. DO NOT EVER grip muscles in any exercise or step as that is detrimental to ballet training which requires fluidity in movements, not rigidity.


In the Closing Movement of Tendu Devant, just reverse the process:

  1. Keeping the whole leg turned out, bring the leg in to close (keep knees stretched and straight) by first releasing the toes to the floor (avoid sickling foot) to a high demi-pointe position.

  2. This time, it is the toes that is leading the foot and heel to close.
    Again, the purpose is to maintain the turnout of the whole leg.

  3. Press the toes on the floor while closing to 1st or 5th to avoid sticking the toes up in an attempt to turnout the leg. This also helps prevent rolling or pronation of the foot when closing.

  4. If you begin turning out the whole leg from the very beginning of the closing movement of the Tendu, then when you close to 1st or 5th, you would have closed properly. There is no need to add in an additional movement in attempt to turn out the foot when in closed position. This is a very BAD habit which must be avoided at all cost. For one, this “forced” movement produces a false turnout which in due time will wreck your knees as you are twisting them in the process. You will not be able to do this in the Centre when executing allegro which requires precision and speed.

  5. If this is the end of the exercise, you may transfer weight over both feet and relax, bringing your hands to Bras Bas position to finish. Otherwise, keep your weight over the supporting toes, both legs turned out, hip lifted up and over. Continue to maintain Basic Stance.

In executing Tendu to the Side,

  1. Follow the same process of Foot Articulation in both the Opening and Closing Movements of the Tendu as detailed above.

  2. In the Opening Movement:

    • Move the heel to “push” the toes forward to a high demi-pointe position.

    • When from 1st position, the working leg is to follow the direction of where the foot is pointing to maintain the turnout of the working leg. Remember this position as this is the same exact position to go to when you execute Tendu to the Side from 5th position (regardless it is from 5th Position Front or 5th Position Back).

    • In stretching the leg and foot away to the side to a high demi-pointe position, push the heel upwards towards the arch before stretching further away to a full pointe, taking care not to “bounce” the toes or lift foot off the floor.

    • Do not curl toes as mentioned above.

    • Again, do not let the supporting hip follow the sliding movement of the Tendu.

  3. In the Closing Movement,

    • Move the toes in, pressing them on the floor to a high demi-pointe position. Keep pressing the toes on the floor as you bring the leg in to prevent the toes from sticking up.

    • As you bring the leg in, remember to release the toes first to a high demi-pointe position Before you release the heel to close. This is to maintain the pointed foot “look”. Otherwise, the Tendu will look like it is executed with a flat foot if the heel is released too early.

In executing Tendu to the Back,

  1. Follow the same process of Foot Articulation in both the Opening and Closing Movements of the Tendu as detailed above.

  2. In the Opening Movement,

    • Turn out the whole working leg, while maintaining both the Basic Stance and turnout of the standing leg.

    • Slide the toes back first to lead the heel to maintain the turnout of the whole leg.

    • Make sure Not to sickle the foot or “wing” it too much when in high demi-pointe position: only the big toe joint is touching the floor. The rest of the toes should not be on the floor (this leads to sickle foot).

    • When stretching the leg away backwards to a full pointe, only the side tip of the big toe is touching the floor. Do not press the big toe and joint onto the floor. A very BAD habit again which can cause serious injuries if you lose balance and fall backwards. Weight should be fully on the supporting leg.

    • Made sure the working leg is directly behind your supporting heel (if executed from 1st position) or directly behind your head (if executed from 5th position).

  3. In the Closing Movement,

    • With the working leg turned out, first release the toes to a high demi-pointe position.

    • Then, release the heel and move the heel first to lead the closing.

    • Make sure toes are on the floor only when heel almost touches the floor to prevent sickle foot look too soon if you put all toes on the floor before the heel reaches.

    • Again, when you close to 1st or 5th position, avoid the additional “push” into position wrecking the knees in the process. This can be prevented if you turn out the working leg from the beginning of the Closing Movement.

Where to buy ballet wear in Singapore

(The List here is not exhaustive. Please call before you go to avoid disappointment especially for the address & opening times. Let me know if there are discrepancies in the information or other shops you know that may be added to the list. Do note that in no way am I paid for this “advertisement”. It’s purely FYI.)

Stage Image 6299-2077 / 6299-2075 (Fax)
c/o Ms Tan
763 North Bridge Rd
(Between Textile Centre & Jln Sultan Mosque)
Mon – Sat 10am – 6pm

The Costumes Shop 6292-5529
c/o Mrs Loke
Golden Landmark #03-21
Mon – Sat 10am – 6pm

Sonata (www.sonata.com.sg)
Branches:
~ Orchard Road [Orchard Central #03-06] /
~ East Coast [Roxy Square] >>> Closing. Last Day 9 Jun 2019 (Sun)
Please refer to their website for more details.

Capezio Singapore 6732-0129 (by OKH Ballet Centre)
Email: okhbc@singnet.com.sg
583 Orchard Road #02-17
Forum The Shopping Mall
Mon – Sun 10:30am – 8:30pm
Also sells Music for ballet class CDs, DVDs, gifts, etc.

Chacott Freed of London 6733 6036 (https://www.facebook.com/chacottfreedSG/)
Email: chacott.singapore@gmail.com
178 Paya Lebar Road, #03-11
Mon - Fri 11:00am – 7:00pm

Online Stores:
Free Movement Singapore
Sansha (USA, very affordable when on sale and buying in bulk.)

Happy Shopping!!!

Meanings of Selected Ballet Exercises


At the Barre

Terminology Meaning Link
Plie Bend How to execute Plie correctly
Tendu Stretch How to execute Tendu correctly
Jete Throw
Rond de Jambe a Terre Circling of the Leg on the Floor
Frappe Strike
Fondu Melt
Petit Battement Small Beating
Adagio At ease, Leisure
Rond de Jambe en L’air Circling of the Leg in the Air
Grand Battement Big Beating
A la Seconde To the Side
Changer Change / Switch
Devant Front / In Front
En Avant Forward / To The Front
Derriere Back / Behind
En Arriere Backward / To The Back
En Croix In the Shape of a Cross
En Dehors Outwards, Away from Supporting Leg
En Dedans Inwards, Towards Supporting Leg

In the Centre

Terminology Meaning
Allegro Brisk, Lively Movement
Brise Broken / Breeze
Cambre Arched
Chaine Chain
Changement de pied Change of Foot
Ciseaux Scissors
Cou de Pied Neck of the Foot, meaning Ankle
Coupe Cutting
Croise Crossed
Ecarte Wide Apart
Efface Shaded
En Face In Front
Epaulement Shouldering, with Shoulder Forward
Pirouette Twirl, Turn on One Leg
Port de Bras Carriage of Arms
Retire Withdrawn
Saute Jump
Sissonne Name of the person who invented this step

8 Directions of the Body

There are 3 main directions out of which comes the 8 Directions of the Body.

With Right Foot Front (the same can be done with Left Foot Front)

Cartoon_Croise.jpg

Croise [Crossed]

Cartoon_EnFace.jpg

En face [In front]

Cartoon_Efface.jpg

Efface [Shaded]


The following are the 8 Directions of the Body in the whole ballet syllabus with which ballet becomes 3-dimensional.

I have incorporated them into a somewhat logical sequence for ease of memorization:

  • 3 directions with leg pointing to the front
  • 2 pointing to the side
  • 3 pointing to the back

With Right Leg (the same can be done with Left Leg)

Cartoon1_CroiseDevant.jpg

Croise Devant [Crossed in Front]

Cartoon2_alaQuatriemeDevant.jpg

a la Quatrieme Devant [4th in Front]

Cartoon3_EffaceDevant.jpg

Efface Devant [Shaded in Front]

Cartoon4_alaSeconde.jpg

a la Seconde [the Second]

Cartoon5_EcarteDevant.jpg

Ecarte (Devant) [Wide Apart (to the Front)]

Cartoon6_Epaule.jpg

Epaule [Efface Derriere with Shoulder]

Cartoon7_alaQuatriemeDerriere.jpg

a la Quatrieme Derriere [4th Behind]

Cartoon8_CroiseDerriere.jpg

Croise Derriere [Crossed Behind]

How to Find the Right Pair of Pointe Shoes

If you have the luxury of being fitted a pair by your teacher or an experienced salesperson (not one who merely wants to get rid of their stocks or push for a popular brand), then go for it. But for some others who may not be as blessed, I have made an attempt here to help alleviate your woes. As you can also find out many more articles out there in cyberspace, what I’ll attempt to do here is to single out those “tougher” issues that most students ask.

Pointe Shoes

(As pointe shoes are very expensive compared to slippers, a rule of the thumb is if you are a beginner, seek the advice of your teacher.)

Pointe shoes are very personal and intimate for your feet. No two feet are alike. So, you’ll have to experiment some to find out the best brand, make and model for your feet. As your feet grow, it will affect all your previous decisions you made on your current shoe. Sometimes, you may even have to change the brand. As you become more experienced, you’ll know what shoe fits best.

In addition to the above pointers, too big a pointe shoe will cause blisters to form. Too tight will cause bunion to form.

There are now so many different brands and models of pointe shoes that students are now spoilt for choice. However, this poses a problem, too, for many.

The style or model of shoe should basically follow the shape of your feet. If your feet are tapered, then get a pair that has a tapered block. If it’s broad, get one with a broad block.

However, one of the most important factor to consider is what happens when you go on demi-pointe. You are not going to dance on pointe all the time, you know. You’ll have to roll-down or roll-up thru’ the pointe some time, jump by using your legs and pushing off from your toes, etc. So, does your big toe get squeezed to one side inside the block when you go on demi-pointe? If so, then the block is too narrow. Continually dancing in it will cause bunion. You must go for comfort and safety for your feet (and dancing!) and NOT by the look. Although a tapered shoe looks better, that is not the way to choose a shoe! It may shorten your dancing career.

Strength of the Shank

A strong shank will cause the feet to work harder on pointe thus strengthening the feet at the same time. This type of shoe is usually recommended for beginners on pointe. However, those who are gifted with beautiful arched feet will benefit from it. Others not so will find it difficult to get onto the box let alone work the feet. Hence, a medium shank may be a better choice. (Again, if you are a beginner, let your teacher make that decision.)

How to Break-In a Pair of Pointe Shoe

As a beginner, DO NOT perform this yourself unless you are prepared to have a “white elephant” in your possession. Again….. yes, ask your teacher.

It is best NOT to break-in a pair from the middle where it is the weakest. ‘Cos once broken-in, it is at the point of no-return.

If you have a high arch, you can start by bending the shank at the back to 3/4s of the way. If you bought a 3/4 shank shoe, then forget this section!

If you have a low arch, start by bending it from the front. Now, this is really a tough one to do. You may need a stronger brother or boyfriend to do it for you. A rough gauge would probably be where your shoe bends at demi-pointe. By doing so, it would help you get onto the box easier.

For those with strong feet, the best shank material to get is the redboard. It is strong but pliable and so last longer. Again, this may just be a personal preference. You’ll have to try it to see.

If you have a favourite pair which fits just lovely but the shank is too hard and you have strong feet, you can try to remove one of the nail at the heel area of the sole. For that, you’ll have to remove the cotton lining inside the shoe, exposing the leather or cardboard upper shank. Pull it apart from the sole until you expose the nail. Use a plier and with strong hands, you can pull that out. The shoe would now have been “converted” into a 3/4 shank. Again this is for strong feet. If your feet is not strong enough, the shoe may become too “soft”.

Basically, you have to break-in where your arch “bends”. If you break-in at the correct spot, when on pointe, you should feel lifted and supported. But as the shank wears down, you may no longer feel it. Hence, in short, you’ll still need strong feet to go on pointe.

How to Find the Right Pair of Ballet Slippers

If you have the luxury of being fitted a pair by your teacher or an experienced salesperson (not one who merely wants to get rid of their stocks or push for a popular brand), then go for it. But for some others who may not be as blessed, I have made an attempt here to help alleviate your woes. As you can also find out many more articles out there in cyberspace, what I’ll attempt to do here is to single out those “tougher” issues that most students ask.

Ballet Slippers

Ballet slippers should fit like a glove –> Not too loose (big) and not too tight.

Too loose, your feet will “swim” in it and difficult to maintain any position.

Too tight restricts blood circulation causing dancing in it excruciatingly painful and unbearable.

To test for tightness lengthwise, stand with feet together in parallel. Bend your knees without lifting your heels. This will cause your feet to elongate slightly. Does any of your toes feel scrunched up at the tip of the shoe? If it does, then, it’s too tight. If there’s still space, then it’s too big.

To test for tightness widthwise, the toes and feet should feel comfortably flat inside the shoe but not too comfortable enough that you can wriggle your toes. Not too tight until your arches are forced upwards.

If you are unsure of the fit, you can always bring it to your teacher for his/her opinion. (Make payment for the shoe first and let shop know you are getting your teacher’s opinion.) If it is not the correct fit, you can always bring it back to the shop from where you purchased it and ask for an exchange.

Note: Exchanges are available only if you…

  1. Did Not sew anything on the shoe

  2. Did Not dirty it (anywhere!)

  3. Did Not pull the drawstring until it cannot get back to original position

  4. Did Not write anything on the shoe which renders it personal and un-resaleable.

How to Execute Plie Correctly: And Get the Most Out of It

Plie is the most important movement in all of ballet exercises. Almost all of ballet movements begin and end with it. You use it when you jump, dart, turn, glide, land from jumps, and spring up whether on demi-pointe or on pointe. Hence, it is essential that we learn to execute it in a correct manner. When executed correctly, it prepares us for jumps; cushions us from the impact of landing from jumps; prevents injury; and enable us to turn from a stable “base” and not throw us off balance.

Plie also warms up the major muscle group of the legs, namely the thigh muscle. That is why it is usually done at the earlier part of the barre exercise, if not as the 1st exercise.

When executing the plie, care must be taken to turn out from the hips, keeping tail bone down thus lengthening the lower back. (This is important to note as this cushions your lower back from the impact of landing from jumps.) Keep upper back, sternum and abdominal muscles lifted the whole time. Ensure that the knee is over the toes, preferably over the 2nd or 3rd toe.

When executing plie in the different positions of the feet, ensure your weight is in the center of both legs, especially in 2nd & 4th position. Make sure the weight on both feet are evenly distributed. We have a tendency to stand on the back leg especially in 4th position. So, to find your center in the 4th crossed position: keep legs stretched and firmly planted on the floor, move your hips forward (shoulders respond accordingly keeping a vertical line with the hips) until you can’t move anymore without going off balance. This is your center.

When executing plie in all the positions of the feet, it is most important that you “feel” the stability of this position. Because this is where all your jumps, turns, darting, gliding and landing will be coming from. So, you must get used to the “feeling” of it until it becomes 2nd nature. Do not check the mirror unless it’s for alignment correction. Remember, there are no mirrors on stage for you to check. So, you need to rely on “feeling” the position and the movement. This applies to all the other ballet exercises.

Now, the process of plie. We must understand that plie is a movement, not a position. It is constantly moving until it either reaches the bottom of the plie (demi or grand) where it rebounds up or ends with stretched legs. This is especially true when preparing for pirouettes. The use of plie in preparation for pirouette is to initiate the torque force required to turn the body. Once you “sit” in your plie and hence not move, the initial force for pirouette is gone. The downward movement of the plie and upward force to releve helps to set the momentum going smoothly and efficiently.

Also, remember, in ballet we always always always stretch our muscles. At no one time do we ever “grip” our muscles. That’s why the muscularity of ballet dancers’ legs are lean and long, not bulky and rounded. Turning out the legs is also another contributing factor. Whether it is in plie or lifting of the legs, keep them stretched.

So, in the downward movement of the plie, we should think of resisting gravity while keeping the upper body lifted. This will avoid excessive use of the thigh muscles to push it down which adds on to muscle mass. Resisting gravity also helps to move the plie smoothly.

In the upward movement, think of bringing the inner thighs together while keeping the rotation of the whole leg. At the final stretch of the legs, do not “snap” the knees to straighten. Instead, keep the knees lifted while extending the stretch upwards to not just straighten the legs but the whole body too.