Balanchine apparently once said “If you just do tendu well, you don't have to do anything else.” While that may be a bit of an overstatement (I kind of feel like you need to at least add plié to that), I can definitely see where he was coming from. I have been kind of obsessed with refining my tendu, because it can always be better. I talked to FBT about it and we wound up having a private only focused on tendu for 1.5 hours.
She designed several exercises to highlight different aspects of the tendu. After a brief warmup, we started on the floor doing seated tendus with a Theraband on each foot. My foot articulation has gotten a lot better, but FBT wanted me to understand that the tendu uses the whole body and the whole chain of the leg to initiate the movement. We took this lesson to the barre, with an exercise going tendu, flex, point, close, tendu, turn in, turn out, close, focusing on initiation throughout. My muscles were engaged like never before. I was sweating already!
We then worked on extension. FBT said that a tendu never ends, it keeps reaching. To emphasize this, she put tape on the floor beyond my reach and asked me to aim towards that in every single tendu. Next up was a lesson on resistance. She held a Theraband around the ball of my foot in opposition while I did tendus in every direction. This forced me to always think about the heel always being forward, and using resistance to accomplish this. We wrapped up at the barre with exercises designed to improve speed and changes in accent (in versus out).
In center, another tendu combination that I kind of bungled, because there was so much new information in my head that I was trying to apply and I was pretty tired. Finished up by working on glissade (because the tendu is the basis for a glissade!), and called it a day.
I AM SO SORE TODAY.