Friday, January 25, 2008

Battement Frappe - A Ballet Barre Exercise

Update today: I was jazzed to see this article in Dance Magazine, about preventing injury to the calf muscle. Because - frappes!

I hope you read it, as well as the article below.

A ballet barre exercise, frappes are important.

Frappe is a French word for ballet meaning "struck". The inclusion in daily routines of a striking movement of the foot along the floor, to a sharp point, is one of the best ballet exercises to build strength towards jumps and pointe work.


The optimum result is muscle memory that contributes to a precise and sharp push into a finely detailed jump, such as battus in all their forms.

Battement frappes is always included in the daily routines of barre work. It is a simple looking movement benefiting both working and supporting leg.

Battement frappe imitates the movement of a jump - from a demi plie to a full stretch of the leg and foot.

By the strike of the ball of the foot on the floor, there is a quick sharp finish to the movement, like when your feet, then toes, push off the floor in a succession that is almost too quick for the eye to see.

This dancer in the video below uses the sharp and strong movement that is needed to develop strength.

The foot then is drawn in quickly to the coupe de pied position - and maybe rapidly taken out and into another coupe de pied position - imitating the rhythm of a battu.

This develops the strength in the adductor muscles, the insides of the legs.

Besides battus, it gives quality to brises, assemble and petits jetes battus, and quick cabrioles.

A rapid fire succession of single frappes en croix is a challenge to the working lower leg.

A rapid fire succession of single frappes en croix without the barre is a challenge to the core muscles, the turnout of both legs, and the body weight remaining stable over the supporting leg.

An extra challenge is the battement frappe a la arriere - behind you. It's a fast change of pelvic postiton, and recovery, relying on the whole body to remain stable over the supporting leg. It imitates an assemble travelling backwards - you must;
  • degage with a strong brush to the back,
  •  jump, 
  • change the body position of the pelvis slightly, 
  • stay strong in the core,
  • relaxed in the neck and arms, 
  • and then land assembled, everything back in place.

The endless repetition of the finely detailed daily routines make the effortless classical presentations possible.

Picture Giselle, only one example, and all the lovely footwork demanded of the lead ballerina role - the daily grind has been done, and the optimum results show.

D. Buxton is a writing partner with Vone Deporter, of The Sedona Series, about a surfer girl in pointe shoes.

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