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Focus: Interview With Professional Dancer Enno Kleinehanding

Aug 20, 2023 by Vreny Blanco · 7 min read · Interviews

Ballet image by Enno Kleinehanding
Image with permission from Enno Kleinehanding

Dance is a universal language that combines joy, physical fitness, and mental strength. Dance uniquely combines movement, touch, and music and is an intense mental workout. The complex steps and turns require maximum concentration and precision.

Have you ever wondered how professional dancers manage to be so disciplined, eat healthy, and exercise regularly? It takes more than willpower to achieve success! That’s why I asked the fascinating professional dancer Enno Kleinehanding for his advice on focus and concentration.

Enno began dancing at the age of five and refined his skills for nine years at the prestigious Berlin Ballet School. He was most recently a member of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens in Montreal and is currently a freelance dancer. His creativity, charisma, and passion for the art are inspiring.

In this exclusive interview, part of our series Ask the Expert, Enno shares his strategies for increasing focus, fighting distractions, and overcoming challenges. Here, you’ll learn firsthand how he combines his passion for dance with discipline, routine, and self-care to achieve success on stage and in his personal life.

Tell us something about yourself.

My name is Enno; I am 26 years old and a freelance dancer in Berlin. Until June this year, I lived in Montreal and worked for the ballet company “Les Grands Ballets Canadiens”.

What helps you to concentrate and be productive?

I like to have a specific routine; it gives me security and calms me down. Above all, a good preparation for the day. Also, before demanding presentations, I really like to do breathing exercises and stretches to help me concentrate.

How do you avoid distractions?

I like to listen to music to prepare myself before the show. My headphones have a noise-canceling feature that helps me stay focused on myself and isolate myself from the outside world.

In what environment do you concentrate best?

The best for me is a dark corner backstage. Sometimes I also visualize the choreography and stage routes.

Do certain routines help you?

Yes, I am definitely a routine person, and I need a clear and specific order, especially in the morning, to start the day well.

A lot. Before the show, I pay more attention to when and what I eat in order to have enough energy to be able to concentrate during the performance and, at the same time, not to feel too full and lazy.

In any high-performance sport, you need tremendous concentration and focus to perform efficiently without getting hurt.

What gets you into the flow state?

Breathing exercises, slow, almost meditative stretching, warm-up exercises, and music.

How do you manage to work when you are unmotivated?

I take a lot more time to prepare because I know my body needs a little more on those days. Sometimes I just give in to inertia and try to use that energy. Sometimes I dance even better when I use less energy and don’t overthink.

Enno in a Ballet pose in the air
Image with permission from Enno Kleinehanding

How do you overcome doubts and fears on stage?

I remind myself that it’s “just” dance, that it’s a privilege to be on stage and to be paid for it. I also think that the audience doesn’t necessarily perceive small technical mistakes as disturbing but rather the energy and presence of the dancers throughout the show. So in those moments, I try to perform with extra passion and enthusiasm to distract from the technical difficulties.

How did you become so disciplined?

Through nine years at the ballet school in Berlin.

What sacrifices have you made to achieve your success?

I had extremely long and hard school and work days as a ballet dancer and very little free time. I also left home when I was very young and usually worked during vacations. My body also suffered a lot over the years and the pay as a ballet dancer is not very good. Now that I work independently, my life has changed a bit; I perform less often and pay more attention to my body’s needs. Also, my personal life has more time and priority.

What do you do to recharge your batteries?

My favorite artistic activities are pottery, painting, and drawing. It’s an excellent way to escape my daily routine as a dancer. I often forget the time, and my body can recover.

How long do you sleep?

I need 7 to 8 hours of sleep to really feel rested.

How do you deal with stress?

With breathing exercises and a lot of daily discipline with sleep and food. That way, I feel in control even in stressful situations.

When do you come up with your best ideas?

That varies a lot: alone in the studio with music, while talking with friends, on long train rides or walks, and sometimes at celebrations.

Is there an experience that has permanently changed your life?

A few experiences have permanently changed my life, but the first thing that comes to mind is the pandemic. For the first time, I had a more extended break from ballet and was able to recover from the time in school. During this period, I got to know myself a lot better, I understood many things about life, and my priorities changed.

What is the key to success?

I think a good recipe for success is a combination of passion, discipline and talent. Of course, privilege and a good support system also play an important role.

Ballettpose Enno
Image with permission from Enno Kleinehanding

Tips to Remember

To increase your focus, discipline, and productivity, you can put the following tips into practice:

Create a Daily Routine

Establish a well-structured daily routine with precise times for work, breaks, and rest.

Prepare Your Day Ahead

Plan your next day’s tasks and goals each evening.

Practice Breathing Exercises

Incorporate breathing exercises into your daily routine to create moments of calm and reduce stress.

Reduce Noise With Headphones

Use active noise-canceling headphones to block out distracting sounds, focus on yourself, and isolate yourself from the outside world.

Harness the Power of Visualization

Visualizing is actively imagining a situation or movement like a movie projected in your mind and consciously controlled by you.

Visualization can help you understand complex processes and relationships more clearly, increase attention, and improve memory. These mental images are a valuable learning resource that allows you to orient yourself in difficult situations quickly.

Pay Attention to Your Body

Pay attention to your body’s needs, including getting enough exercise, staying hydrated, and relaxing.

Use Music to Help You Concentrate

Experiment with background music to help you focus. Certain sounds can increase your productivity.

Motivate Yourself

On days when you lack motivation, consciously invest more time in your preparation and pay more attention to your body.

Instead of fighting inertia, let it happen. Harness its energy and discover how thinking less sometimes leads to better performance.

Face Your Doubts and Fears

Doubts and fears are universal challenges. How Enno deals with them on stage will give you valuable insights:

  • Gratitude reduces anxiety. Acknowledge the privilege of your work.
  • Concentrate on the positive. Weaknesses are less noticeable than the energy and presence you bring.
  • Choose passion over uncertainty. Dedication distracts from fears and encourages courageous action.

Make Time for Self-Care

Make sure you have a good daily routine to maintain your energy and mental clarity:

  • Regular and adequate sleep.
  • Eating a healthy and balanced diet.

Find a Balance Between Work and Relaxation

  • Engage in activities that you enjoy, and that mentally challenge you. These can serve as a creative escape from the stress of work.
  • Immerse yourself in these activities. Allow your body and mind to regenerate and recharge.
  • Recognize the importance of these recovery periods and consider them necessary to counteract your workload.

Build a Support System

Share your dreams and challenges with those closest to you: family, friends, and mentors. Positive support will increase your motivation and keep you on track. This will help you overcome obstacles and find solutions to achieve your goals.


We express our sincere gratitude to the talented professional dancer Enno Kleinehanding, whose inspiring ideas have been a remarkable enrichment to our series of articles Ask the Expert.

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