Time motion and video analysis of classical ballet and contemporary dance performance

Int J Sports Med. 2011 Nov;32(11):851-5. doi: 10.1055/s-0031-1279718. Epub 2011 Nov 3.


Video analysis has become a useful tool in the preparation for sport performance and its use has highlighted the different physiological demands of seemingly similar sports and playing positions. The aim of the current study was to examine the performance differences between classical ballet and contemporary dance. In total 93 dance performances (48 ballet and 45 contemporary) were analysed for exercise intensity, changes in direction and specific discrete skills (e. g., jumps, lifts). Results revealed significant differences between the 2 dance forms for exercise intensity (p<0.001), changes in direction (p<0.001) and discrete skills (p<0.05) with gender differences noted in the latter (p<0.05). Ballet was characterised by longer periods at rest (38 s x min(-1)) and high to very high exercise intensities (9 s x min(-1)), whilst contemporary dance featured more continuous moderate exercise intensities (27 s x min(-1)). These differences have implications on the energy systems utilised during performance with ballet potentially stressing the anaerobic system more than contemporary dance. The observed high rates in the discrete skills in ballet (5 jumps x min(-1); 2 lifts x min(-1)) can cause local muscular damage, particularly in relatively weaker individuals. In conclusion, classical ballet and contemporary dance performances are as significantly different in the underlying physical demands placed on their performers as the artistic aspects of the choreography.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Dancing / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Sex Factors
  • Time and Motion Studies
  • Video Recording*