Physiological characteristics of classical ballet

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1984 Oct;16(5):472-6. doi: 10.1249/00005768-198410000-00009.


The aerobic and anaerobic energy yield during professional training sessions ("classes") of classical ballet as well as during rehearsed and performed ballets has been studied by means of oxygen uptake, heart rate, and blood lactate concentration determinations on professional ballet dancers from the Royal Swedish Ballet in Stockholm. The measured oxygen uptake during six different normal classes at the theatre averaged about 35-45% of the maximal oxygen uptake, and the blood lactate concentration averaged 3 mM (N = 6). During 10 different solo parts of choreographed dance (median length = 1.8 min) representative for moderately to very strenuous dance, an average oxygen uptake (measured during the last minute) of 80% of maximum and blood lactate concentration of 10 mM was measured (N = 10). In addition, heart rate registrations from soloists in different ballets during performance and final rehearsals frequently indicated a high oxygen uptake relative to maximum and an average blood lactate concentration of 11 mM (N = 5). Maximal oxygen uptake, determined in 1971 (N = 11) and 1983 (N = 13) in two different groups of dancers, amounted to on the average 51 and 56 ml X min-1 X kg-1 for the females and males, respectively. In conclusion, classical ballet is a predominantly intermittent type of exercise. In choreographed dance each exercise period usually lasts only a few minutes, but can be very demanding energetically, while during the dancers' basic training sessions, the energy yield is low.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Dancing*
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Lactates / blood
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Physical Exertion*


  • Lactates