The latest instalment for my ballet steps series is a barre exercise, battement frappé. Frappé means 'strike' and the movement is a striking of the ball of the foot against the floor.
There are numerous variations, but the most common (at least in my experience) is one where the working foot starts in a flexed position with the heel placed on the ankle bone of the supporting leg. The working foot then strikes against the floor as the working knee straightens, with the movement finishing once the leg is fully extended and slightly off the ground. This frappé can be performed en croix, ie. in three directions for each leg - to the front, to the side and to the back.
Another variation of the battement frappé commences with the foot pointed and the toe placed on the ankle bone of the supporting leg. This is followed by the same strong extension of the working leg, but usually without the ball of the foot striking the floor. Frappés may also be double of triple, where the working foot is beated against the working leg before extending. For example, a triple frappé to the front would involve the working foot beating to the front, back and front of the supporting ankle bone before 'striking' out.
Key points in the technique of a battement frappé are ensuring the working leg and knee is fully turned out in the preparatory position before extension, and making the frappé action as strong and sharp as possible. There should also be a moment of pause held in the extended position before the foot returns to the ankle bone.
Battements frappés are typically performed to a 2/4 beat but the timing and accents can be varied and made more complex to develop students' rhythmical understanding.