To investigate the exercise intensity during a typical grade five ballet lesson, thirty-nine dancers (13 - 16 yrs) were divided into three different technical proficiency groups: low level (n = 13), intermediate level (n = 14), and high level (n = 12). A progressively incremented treadmill test was administered to determine VO(2max), individual ventilatory threshold (IVT), and the individual anaerobic threshold (IAT). Oxygen uptake (VO(2)), heart rate (HR) and blood lactate (La) were then evaluated during a grade five ballet lesson. Oxygen uptake at IVT, IAT and maximal oxygen uptake were greater (p < 0.05) in the high-level dancers indicating a higher level of fitness. HR and %VO(2max) obtained during the various exercises of the ballet lesson were similar among groups. During the ballet lesson, low technical level dancers had more V.O (2) and La values above (p < 0.05) the IAT than the other groups. Correlation analysis revealed that the number of exercises performed above IAT was positively related to anthropometric characteristics (BMI, %FM; r = 0.36, p < 0.05; r = 0.46, p < 0.01), negatively related to fitness parameters (VO(2IVT), VO(2IAT), VO(2max); r between - 0.43 and - 0.69; p < 0.001) and to technical level (r = - 0.70; p < 0.001). The subjects classified as having low technical abilities had lower fitness levels and performed more exercises above IAT than the more skilled dancers.