Ballet for Life Has Been Written!

My memoir is written​.​ Final edits and proofing are being made. Son Jason is laying it out online so we can see the book as it will actually be printed.

You can read​ ​an excerpt here.

Here’s what Andy Blankenbuehler​, my former student at BDC​ ​and three-time Tony-winning Broadway choreographer (Hamilton, Bandstand, and In the Heights) says: “Thousands of lessons, hardships, joys, and triumphs . . . thousands of moments when generosity shapes the future. These are gifts along the journey of life! In this book, Finis Jhung honors those gifts, and shows through his words, teaching, and career, that the journey is not successfully navigated without a stunning love for the work and a great deal of inspiration. As a teenager, I walked into Finis’ class with my dance bag and countless hopes and dreams. Luckily for me, a stunning love for the work and a great deal of inspiration was waiting at the barre.”

And strangely enough, twenty years ago, when Andy first tried his hand at choreography for a regional theater, I interviewed him for my website. I knew then he was a special talent who had the makings of success—but never to the degree he has since attained! Busy as he is, Andy found time to write his thoughts about my memoir while flying to the UK to set his choreography on the London production of Hamilton which premieres this December.

Finally, my mind can relax, and I look forward to sleeping at night without memories of the past making me jump out of bed to write them down to add to the memoir. The hardest part of writing the book was not so much the writing—which I’ve always enjoyed (even as a cub reporter for the local newspaper in Honolulu when I was eighteen years old)—but hunting down the people who took photos of my dance activities from 1949 to 1986 and getting their permission to publish.

This has truly been a labor of love, and with the completion of each chapter, I have continually been reminded of how fortunate I am to have been able to enjoy the realization of all my once seemingly impossible childhood dreams.

Release date is December 1, but Ballet for Life is available to pre-order now.

KEEP MOVING FORWARD

Today we remember one of America’s greatest heroes, Martin Luther King Jr. This wise and courageous leader left us with many inspiring thoughts. One of them is my daily mantra:

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

When I first started teaching 44 years ago, I mainly taught professionals who were skilled dancers that required barre exercises that developed slowly in complexity and speed, and center combinations that were choreographed like short dances. The classes always ended at performance level with dancers flying and turning across the floor with dazzling speed and expertise.

Today, I no longer teach advanced professionals. Instead, at The Ailey Extension (and around the world with my streaming videos and DVDs) my focus is on teaching amateur adult beginners.

Because most of these adults are non-dancing professionals (doctors, lawyers, administrators, office workers) moving forward for them happens slowly. But steadily.

With My Adult Babies at Ailey Extension

My personal challenge each day is to continue moving forward by thinking backwards – distilling ballet technique to its most simple and learnable elements so that regardless of a person’s age, anatomy, background, or aptitude, it is possible to learn how to stand and move with balance, strength, and grace.

As I watch my “adult babies” learn each exercise with childlike wonder and practice each exercise with rapt concentration, they reaffirm my deep belief that the art of ballet teaches one not only how to dance, but, more importantly, how to continue moving forward in the journey that is life.