No, not *that* kind of fondu!
As you might guess from the cuisine of the same name, fondu in French means “to melt,” and in ballet indicates that the supporting leg is performed in plié (melted) while the other leg is extended. Fondu, like tendu, is a core fundamental of balletic forms: it provides strength and fluidity between stepped movements and in push-off motions such as jumps. The difficulty in fondu is to maintain your balance (neither tipping forward nor off to one side to compensate for the bended leg) as well as to pull together both legs at the same time when completing the fondu and straightening up.
The battement fondu is a particular type of leg extension that utilizes the melted support leg. In it, the supporting leg performs a plié, whereas the extended leg moves between pointing at the supporting leg’s ankle (cou-de-pied) outward from the body. While the leg is extended, when it comes to its optimal height – whether keeping the toe on the floor (tendu par terre, as is shown in the image below), or performing a small dégagé or a higher grand battement – both legs complete their extension and fully straighten.
As indicated in this video, the challenge of battement fondu is this simultaneous extension and straightening – it takes a lot of practice to gain the muscle strength and coordination to perform the battement fondu properly, but it is worth it when it comes to performing similar tasks en centre during choreography.
Fondu is not exclusively performed as a battement – indeed, in our classes recently, we have been practicing fondu at the barre as a way to perform the grand rond de jambe, using the melted leg to support the body core while the extended leg completes its large circle. During révérence, we also perform a motion en fondu – our “Bolshoi curtsy”! The supporting leg performs a plié, while the extended leg sweeps behind the body to complete the bow.
So when performing fondu, remember: make your supporting leg like hot chocolate or cheese and MELT! 🙂