What is a Tendu in Ballet: An In-Depth Explanation

If you are new to the enchanting world of ballet, you may have come across the term “tendu” during your exploration. But what exactly does this French word mean? In this blog post, we will delve into the intricacies of tendu, explaining its definition, technique, and significance within classical ballet.

The Definition of Tendu

Tendu is a fundamental movement in ballet that translates to “stretched” or “extended.” It involves smoothly sliding one foot along the floor while keeping it fully stretched until only the tip of the toe remains touching. This exquisite motion embodies both precision and grace and serves as a building block for more complex steps.

The Technique Behind Tendu

To execute a tendu correctly, dancers must adhere to specific technical aspects:

Foot Placement

A tendu can be performed either from first position (heels together with toes turned out) or fifth position (one foot placed in front of the other). Regardless of starting position, the working foot slides directly forward or sideways while maintaining contact with – but not bearing weight on -the floor.

Foot Articulation

Dancers should strive for maximum articulation through their feet during a tendu. The instep should lead while pointing away from the ankle joint; there should be no sickling or rolling inward onto the big toe. This attention to detail ensures proper alignment and strengthens important stabilizing muscles.

Upper Body Alignment

An integral part of executing any ballet movement is maintaining correct posture. While performing a tendu, dancers must keep their upper body lifted with a natural curve in the spine. The shoulders should be relaxed, down and back, while the head remains aligned with the rest of the body.


Tendu not only involves precise footwork but also requires coordination between upper and lower body movements. As the working foot extends along the floor, dancers must simultaneously engage their core muscles and maintain a sense of fluidity throughout their bodies.

The Significance of Tendu in Ballet

Tendu serves as an essential foundational movement for ballet training due to its numerous benefits:

Strengthening Muscles

A well-executed tendu engages various muscle groups, including those in the feet, ankles, legs, and core. Consistent practice helps develop strength and stability throughout these areas – crucial for mastering more complex ballet techniques.

Improving Flexibility

The continuous stretching action involved in tendu enhances flexibility in dancers’ feet and legs over time. By regularly practicing this movement with proper technique, ballet students can achieve greater range of motion while maintaining control.

Promoting Balance and Control

Tendu encourages dancers to find balance on one leg while executing movements with precision on their working foot. This focus on control improves overall stability when transitioning into other steps or pirouettes (turns).

In Conclusion

Ballet’s tendu is far more than just sliding a foot along the floor; it represents discipline, technique, strength-building, flexibility enhancement, balance promotion – all culminating towards achieving gracefulness onstage. Properly executed tendus lay a solid foundation upon which aspiring ballerinas build their skills as they progress through this captivating art form.