A grand battement involves kicking the working leg devant, a la seconde or derrière usually from a first or fifth position keeping both legs straight and the body held rather than slumped. The knees should be pulled up to avoid bending and the toes should be fully pointed as soon as the foot leaves the floor.
Below I will describe common mistakes that are made and how to avoid them;
TURNED IN WORKING LEG/HIP IS LIFTED:
When taking the grand battement to second it’s very easy to turn the working leg in and at the same time lift the hip. This can happen when the dancer is trying to get a higher extension of the leg before they have gained the strength and flexibility they need to perform this. To overcome this beginner dancers should keep their grand battement low ideally at a 45 degree angle. They should also perform this step with a flexed foot to ensure the correct muscle groups are being used. Also make sure when you grand battement to second that you keep the leg turned out and in front of the body on a diagonal rather than too far to the side.
Another common error is to not fully point the foot as soon as it leaves the floor. The foot instead is relaxed and the dynamic of the grand battement is lost. To overcome this the dancer should think of this step in exactly the same way as a tendu and a glissé in that it goes through demi point to a fully pointed foot and then lifts. Imagine that you have chewing gum on the bottom of your ballet shoes and you are trying to wipe it off this is how much you should use the floor in this step. The same principle applies when the foot lowers to close, lead with the heel and think about that wiping motion as you bring the foot in.
LEG SLAMS INTO THE SUPPORTING LEG:
When the grand battement closes dancers can sometimes bring the leg down with such force that it slams into the supporting leg. Try to imagine that the grand battement is powering up with force but that it is floating back down to achieve the correct dynamic of this step.
SUPPORTING LEG IS BENT:
The supporting leg has a tendency to bend slightly as you reach your maximum grand battement. Hold the hip and pull up the knee of the supporting leg and keep the supporting side of your body strong. Without this you won’t be able to achieve a controlled and high grand battement.
WORKING LEG IS BENT:
Grand Battement derrière is a difficult step to master. It can take dancers years to execute this correctly. The most common mistake is that the working leg slightly bends. To overcome this pull up the knees of both the supporting and working leg. Again as mentioned above keep the hip strong and the weight firmly placed over the supporting leg.
PULLING OFF OF THE LEG:
Pulling off of the leg relates to weight placement. This commonly occurs at the barre as dancers grip the barre rather than lightly placing their hand to help guide their placement. When the dancer performs a grand battement their weight will be slightly over the working leg and their body with slightly bend towards it. A way to avoid this would be to check your weight placement before you start the exercise, hover off of the heel that way you will know that your weight is over the ball of the foot rather than on the heel. You won’t be able to rise easily if your weight is in the wrong place so this is a good way to check before you start.
We all know that the back should remain straight throughout our ballet exercises, that their should be no curve in the lower spine and that the shoulders should be back and down. However, there is a tendency when performing a grand battement for the body to twist or distort slightly. Try to keep the hips facing forward to avoid this, imagine that you have head lights on the front of your hips and that the lights are facing forwards when executing a grand battement to the front and to the side. The hips may tilt ever so slightly when you perform a grand battement derrière. Another common error is for the body to slump slightly, try to imagine that your arms are resting on a table top this will help you to keep your posture lifted.
SHOULDER IS LIFTED:
The supporting shoulder tries to over compensate in a grand battement and often lifts. This occurs as the dancer takes the strength of this movement in their neck and shoulders rather than their core abdominal muscles. Keep the supporting shoulder down, perform the grand battement in front of the mirror to correct yourself.
At Balletic we follow the bbodance ballet syllabus which in turn uses the ‘Gail Grant Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet‘ for all of it‘s terminology. Diagrams may be different to what you are used to based on the school of ballet that you follow.