Battement tendu means “stretched beating” in French, the straight working leg brushes out to its longest, stretched position, toes always in contact with the floor (A terre). It returns to its original position or to a new one, sometimes with a plié, sometimes with an additional variation in the extended position. For those ISTD teachers, you need to be a bit creative in giving different variation (taken from 5th position and executed to the front, to the side and then to the back) free work during class. This sequence of movements is called en croix, which means ‘in the shape of a cross’.
Tendus teach and train you how to move your feet and legs correctly. They develop a supple, articulate foot and a strong, flexible ankle. They build the strength and control you need to stand on just one leg while working legs works in all directions around you. The tendus has a fairly small range of motion, but mastering it is crucial for executing bigger movements. It is crucial for a lot of Asian dancers, as they do not have natural arched metatarsal. A nice arch can be trained by using various floor exercise, exercise band. (Refer to Little Ballerina: Top 10 tips on improving your arch)
My thoughts on Tendus
Lead with your inner thigh to really work your turnout.
Always think lead by your heel. Turn out.
Go through ball of your foot and lengthening the toes while you are fully point. When you are teaching small children tell them battement tendus is like ironing the floor. (Go through demi-pointe and extend fully to a fully extended toes on the floor. Feel the floor pressure) Pointing happens at both the ankle and the metatarsal joints.
When you are teaching younger children. Touch them by pushing or resisting their knees when they do battement tendus devant, use the same method, push their knees when they close. So that they can feel the ‘straight in and straight out’ feeling.
The return is essential; close your tendus precisely into a perfect first or fifth position, using inner thigh. Ensure heels down.
Always take care of your supporting side. Maintain turn out and feel lifted.