Ballet for Life: A Pictorial Memoir

$27.50

“This biography is complete and compelling, touching and honest. The photographs are exquisite.”

— Lawrence Rhodes,
Artistic Director Emeritus, Dance Division, The Juilliard School

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Description

“Browsable inspiration for dancers of any age or physical ability.”Read More at Kirkus Reviews >

FREE with Purchase!
The Ballet for Life Totebag.
All copies bought on finisjhung.com autographed at no extra charge and include a free Totebag! Mr. Jhung is delighted to autograph your book. No personal note is available, but please specify the recipient’s name(s) in the ‘Order Notes’ at checkout.

Ballet for Life is also available on Amazon and the Ailey Store in New York City (9th Avenue and 55th Street).
For the first time, dance legend Finis Jhung shares his incredible journey from a humble angel thildhood amid the chaos of World War II Hawai’i to an extraordinary career as a dancer on Broadway, in film, and with the Joffrey and Harkness ballet companies and then as the founder of the critically acclaimed Chamber Ballet U.S.A. Ballet for Life: A Pictorial Memoir is filled with nearly 300 gorgeous photos—most of them never before published-along with Finis’s own distinctively witty commentary on his personal and professional life and his intimate recounting of the freedom that he gained from his conversion to Buddhism 50 years ago. The memoir also lovingly pays tribute to many of the fascinating dance personalities whom Finis met along the way.

Today at the age of 80, Finis’s story continues as a much-sought-after master ballet teacher and coach, who imparts his own innovative ballet technique to dancers in New York City through popular classes and to dancers everywhere through a library of his own instructional videos.

Additional information

Weight 1.6875 lbs
Memoir Options

Paperback – $19.99, Autographed Paperback – $24.99

All are 5 Star Reviews!

“Thank you Finis… this is priceless!

— Donna Martelli. March 18, 2018

“I loved the music Finis Jhung developed with his pianists and used it for my ballet classes all the time. This memoir is simply beautiful. What a wonderful life this man had led, and so many people have benefited from his teaching as well. He’s also published dozens of DVDs on various aspects of ballet training (turning, balancing, jumping, etc.) and is well known in NYC for his ‘absolute beginner’ ballet class three nights a week. Oh, how I’d love to attend those! He’s 81 and still teaching. His book is full of beautiful photographs from his dancing days and he talks about how he always knew he wanted to be a dancer, even though there wasn’t much in the way of solid ballet training in Hawaii at the time. He has danced with and taught many famous dancers, and I love how he included a couple dozen commentaries and photos of his adult ‘baby’ ballet dancers with a note about what they do professionally at the end of the book. It has inspired me to get out my ballet shoes and start stretching and doing barre again on my own. I found another book he wrote about teaching ballet that goes in depth, explaining each step within a combination for a ballet class, and I’ve ordered it too. What an amazing, inspirational man!

—Tamara Rhoades-Baldwin. April 8, 2018

What a treasure! This memoir is an important read for anyone interested in ballet and dance in America in the 20th and 21st centuries. Finis’ unique journey is an inspiration.

—Catherine. April 8, 2018

“If you’ve ever taken a ballet class, thought about taking a ballet class or just love ballet, you need this book! Finis’s book is a perfect mix of his thoughts on ballet technique, insider industry stories and personal history. It is a great, easy and interesting read with a ton of beautiful pictures. Finis is a master teacher and his book is a must-read for any ballet lover.

—Lily. April 4, 2018

“I suspected I might love this book and I was not wrong! Having travelled to New York from Australia to study with Finis Jhung, having learned so much from him as to how to teach ballet, I had discovered what a fascinating person he is. So, I knew that the details of his life would be equally fascinating. This book is a must have for anyone interested in ballet, the arts in general or just interested in reading about someone who has had an interesting life, filled with ups and downs, but with an underlying tenacity and so much achievement as a result. The book tells of his life from his childhood in Hawaii to now being a teacher in New York at the age of 80 and having just had a hip replacement. It is listed as a pictorial memoir and as such is filled with photos of people that really make the story come alive. Finis writes with a sort of present tense immediacy, which really makes you feel like you are traveling the journey along with him. No-one could help being inspired by such a life. Thanks, Finis, for sharing it with us all. I feel very honoured that I was asked to contribute to the Reflections section.”

—Rosemary Robenn. April 3, 2018

Ballet for Life is a critical record for ballet’s history and future. Finis Jhung’s pictorial memoirs unveil the complex and delicate web that weaves together generations of ballet dancers and all who have pursued, and who continue to pursue, the art. Finis Jhung is ageless, his life timeless, his purpose an indescribable life force. His message is creation and his action cutting-edge clarity in forward motion. Finis Jhung is ballet clearly defined and understood. His willingness to open his world only adds to the continual giving and happiness he shares. Bravo, Finis! And thank you.”

—Sallyann Mulcahy. April 1, 2018

“I have been an avid follower of Finis Jhung’s instructional videos since he produced it in VHS tape format in the late 1990s. I have continued to acquire his DVDs and the Finis Jhung Ballet Technique: A Guide for Teachers and Students. Finis shares and delivers his wealth of knowledge and experience with unreserved passion and earnestness. It was a joy and inspiration to read his memoir with a wonderful pictorial layout. I love the engaging narration of his journey from humble beginnings, through countless hurdles, to a become a much-revered master teacher in the dance world. And yet through all this, he remains true to his cause, reason and vision, with no pretenses or self-glorification. I think his success and staying power are a combination of perseverance, resourcefulness, humility, passion, compassion and a genuine interest in improving technique, by using a back-to-basics approach in his effective teaching, delivered in his trademark and innovative style.

—Susan L-S. March 25, 2018

“Finis plays storyteller here, taking you by the hand and leading you on a journey through a long, eventful, passionate life. From childhood memories of Pearl Harbor to tales of European tours with a leading-edge company to memories of seeking spiritual enlightenment amid the craziness of New York in the 70s, it’s a story you haven’t heard before. The pictures are wonderful and plentiful, the writing is crisp and compelling. Kudos to a ballet master with a broad view of the world, which far exceeds his own discipline! Enjoy.”

— Donna K. March 18, 2018

“I loved reading about the early life of this man with whom I studied ballet in the ’80s at the beautiful studio on 77th St. I was pursuing a career in dance despite never taking a dance class until I was 17 at Queensborough Community College. I encountered the Graham technique there from a teacher whose first name was Miriam. I was told at some point that I needed ballet training to ever get anywhere in any audition in NY. I studied ballet at a downtown studio for a while and then someone told me about Finis Jhung. My memories of that studio are wonderful. I wasn’t forced to turn out beyond my ability but I learned how to turn and how to handle my arms. I was a mess of a twenty something girl who found such peace at that studio. I remember a class called ‘Yoga for the ’80s’ I actually fell asleep on the floor during that class.”

— Rainey. March 16, 2018

“I purchased this book for my 80-year old mom, because she was a dancer in New York in the ’50s. She loved the book. She told me that once she started reading it, she couldn’t put it down. It really took her back to her dancing days. My favorite quote, ‘I knew a lot of the same people that he knew, but somehow I didn’t know him.’ Next, it’s my turn to read it! Thank you, Mr. Jhung, for recording a time in history that is so important to so many people.

— Linda Schilke, March 14, 2018

“I have been using Finis Jhung’s teaching videos and CD’s for many years and enjoyed immensely reading about his early life and his continuing quest toward making the perfect pirouette a possibility for the adult dancer. I am an octogenarian as he is, and a lifelong dance lover and a ballet teacher for forty years. As such I welcomed his first-hand accounts of dancers and teachers he knew personally, but I had only read about. Loved all the pictures which served to bring this visual art to life on the page. Congratulations to Finis Jhung for a life well-lived preserved life in a book worth reading.

— RV Horner. March 13, 2018

Beautiful book! Finis is wonderful.”

— Amazon Customer. March 13, 2018

“Once I started reading, Ballet for Life, I couldn’t put it down. It reads like a novel, works as a ballet handbook and is so entertaining with wonderful photos. Oh, how I loved learning about Finis’s interesting, sometimes not so easy life. Finis, you are a true artist in every sense of the word and now you can add author to your amazing list of credits. This book has inspired me to share the wonderful world of ballet with my students.

— Denise Blackstone. March 8, 2018

“The pictures and short stories were filled with honest sharing. They give you such a personal experience with Finis’s journey they can’t help but inspire you on your own journey!! Love this memoir and it is a great read for anyone with a passion in their heart that is unfolding.

— Christine Crawley. March 7, 2018

“Finis Jhung’s pictorial memoir, Ballet for Life, is a compelling photographic journey through the life of one of ballet’s contemporary masters. Born in post-war Hawaii, as a little boy, Finis dreamed of ballet. Surrounded by his more baseball-minded brothers and friends, he was the Billy Elliot of his community – a little kid for whom it was an act of bravery to be true to himself, by dancing. Decades later, Finis would have a full-circle moment when he was brought on to the Broadway production of Billy Elliot to teach ballet to the young performers playing the part of Billy (three of whom went on to win a Tony Award for their shared role.) But there’s greater depth to Finis’s journey than just the Hallmark moment.

“Finis became a student of what, remarkably, was not being taught: body mechanics and the development of a kinesthetic senses that best serve ballet, as well as other types of motion and sport (concepts that are still too often ignored). Old-school ballet is as brutal as you’ve heard. The premise of much instruction was that you must force your body into picture-perfect positions; how you got there was either a) mostly your problem, or b) ran counter to the body’s natural design and the physics of motion. It fostered elitism: those with less than perfect body structure from birth need not apply. That ‘make it happen, no matter what’ school of thought was also a formula for injury.

“Finis’s memoir chronicles not just the life of a performer — on tour in the 60s through such locales as the Soviet Union and pre-war Afghanistan — but his own journey as a dancer intent on understanding the how and why of what makes dance happen, in its most literal and intuitive sense. The result was Finis’s own technique for performing and teaching, which he has been sharing with his students—among them, many teachers—for years. I am among his students. Finis, now in his eighth decade, continues to teach.

His journey democratizes ballet, because every human body can learn principles of motion (which makes far more sense than contorting oneself into position). It also honors that impulse he felt as a little boy in Hawai‘i, and that many of us share; the one that says, ‘I know I’m not ‘supposed’ to, but I want to try ballet.’ We may not all perform at Lincoln Center, although Finis teaches some who do. But for many of us that’s never been a goal. Being true to ourselves is all that matters. With photos by such greats as Avedon, Ballet for Life is an inside account of exactly that: a life in ballet, from school, through peaks and troughs of performing, to the financing of a dance company, the discovery of the physics of motion, to the teaching of students — many of whom share their own journeys in the memoir’s closing section. A lovely read for anyone with their own intuitive sense about ballet.

—MP Nunan. March 7, 2018

“I knew Finis was a brilliant teacher and coach, but I had no idea that he was such a valuable part of American dance history. This book reveals a true American Master.

—Julio Monge. March 2, 2018

I devoured Finis Jhung’s memoir with my heart and soul. Finis released a preview chapter and I could not get enough of the tidbits of his personal life. Every chapter is accented with rare and beautiful photos captured with immense beauty and grace. I especially loved the photos with his family and his life in Hawai‘i before studying and leading a wonderful life in the mainland. From humble beginnings, Finis worked hard to prove his skills amongst dancers with ways and means. He never faltered in pursuing his dreams by persevering in an art form that is somewhat financially unstable. He gave voice to the struggles of other dancers, endeavoring to make a livelihood while doing something they live to do: Dance. He broke the mold as an Asian-American principal dancer and founded his own ballet company. He innovatively changed the way music is used to accompany barre and center work. Finis brought us along on his journey through trials and tribulations, triumphs and successes. Along the way, there was heartache that could make anyone falter and fall into despair. Finis’s enduring spirit can be seen in the way he lives his life, without apology or excuse. He exemplifies what determination, hard work and steadfastness can bring to one’s life. Finis is not only a mentor and trailblazer, but also a visionary who embraced change. He commands respect and influence through his thoughtfulness and presence. He is an artist like no other. He transforms the lives of his friends, fellow dancers and teachers, and students. He gives his talent freely to professional dancers and non-dancers alike, and with keen observation and informative adjustment, provides meaningful feedback for immediate results. Finis leads by example and deserves much praise for writing this much anticipated memoir. Finis has written the recipe for success, and I am looking forward to his future projects. In the meantime, I will be re-reading and reflecting on his memoir for inspiration and enjoying the pictorial gems throughout the book, which is personally autographed by the master himself. Thank you so much Finis!”

—Julie Wong. March 1, 2018

“I love how Finis writes so honestly. The beautiful photographs come to life. What an amazing story, what a magnificent man. Finis teaches simply by living.”

—Amazon Customer. March 1, 2018

“Beautifully written. Passion, and love leap (or should I say Jeté) off the page. Finis Jhung is amazing, here is his life: the highs the lows, the trials and tribulations, all illustrated with wonderful beautiful photographs of his life and career. A wonderful book for anyone who has even just a passing interest in dance and ballet.

—Salfordnurse. February 28, 2018

“Fantastic, moving Memoir by a great Principal Dancer (and teacher!), Finis Jhung. Moving, flowing (with fantastic photos of a great life in dance!) Thank you for the beauty and honesty!

—Cheryl Clark former Harkness ballerina and Broadway dancer/singer/actress. February 25, 2018

Must read! A fascinating account of Finis’s journey to the realization of the American dream. The format and journalistic style make this an easy and fun read. An inspiring story with something for everyone.”

—Driftwood. February 22, 2018

“Finis Jhung’s pictorial memoir Ballet for Life takes the reader along on his improbable, or perhaps it was an inevitable journey, from aspiring dancer to principle with a world acclaimed ballet company. This memoir is the story of a career, a family and friends made along the way as Mr. Jhung moves from Hawai’i to the mainland; from university ballet performances to prestigious venues across the nation and around the world; from the Broadway stage to the Hollywood film set and eventually back to the ballet studio—this time as teacher. His idea was—and is—to teach adult students the ‘movement behind the movement’ and ‘the laws of dance’—something he’s been doing for 45 years. The story Mr. Jhung tells is about lofty goals set and ambitions achieved. It is also about endurance and discipline and the Buddhist beliefs that sustained him through times of great difficulty and most especially a tragic personal loss. At the age of 80, Finis Jhung underwent successful hip surgery. He intends now to keep dancing and teaching ‘ever onward.’”

—Arleen Lebe. Feb 22, 2018

“Join Finis Jhung and discover the intimate and compelling stories of his life. From his childhood in Hawai’i, university, military service, the trials and tribulations of a professional dance career, religious journeys, fatherhood, establishing a ballet company, becoming a master ballet instructor, creating a business to adulthood in the present day… a must-read memoir for ballet enthusiasts and historians, dancers, students and teachers alike. It has been my pleasure to take a small part in Finis’s extraordinary life. You will enjoy getting to know him as I always have.”

— Salli Silliman, retired dancer Chamber Ballet U.S.A. and life-long student. February 20, 2018

“Reading this memoir of Finis Jhung’s extraordinary journey from his early beginnings in Hawai’i to his various careers as a dancer, director, teacher and devoted Buddist leader is an inspiration to everyone. Articulately written, it is an honest account of the struggles and triumphs of one of the ballet worlds most gifted artists. The photographs are lovely and I especially enjoyed the accounts of working with Erik Bruhn, touring around the world with the Joffrey and Harkness ballets, and developing his unique teaching methods. This book is hard to put down and after finishing it I would think that a documentary of Finis’s life should be in the making. I would recommend this biography to anyone searching for an inspirational and uplifting read.

— Diana Duffy, Former member Harkness and Pennsylvania Ballets. February 17, 2018

“If you’re a fan of the ballet, you must own this book. The many fascinating rare pictures alone are worth the purchase price. Throughout his impressive career, Finis worked and rubbed shoulders with the elite of the ballet world, including Robert Joffrey, Antony Tudor, Anton Dolin, and Eric Bruhn. The history is all here, and it’s wonderful to see. It’s also a fascinating story of the growth of an individual. Finis was born in Hawai’i and decided at a young age that dance was the life for him. The book carries him through his training at a local dance school, to university, and into a distinguished career as a dancer. We also see him embrace Buddhism and leave the ballet world in order to promote peace as a Buddhist teacher, only to be drawn back in and become a prominent ballet teacher of professionals and amateurs alike. We see him through his marriage and divorce and meet his son Jason. In the last section of the autobiography, we see Finis, still teaching large classes at age 80, undergo a hip replacement and rehab in record-time.”

— Laura Brown. February 17, 2018

“This book is great reading for anyone interested in dance history. Easy reading with loads of information and pictures. Wonderful storytelling!

—Stephen von der Launitz. February 13, 2018

“I loved this book! With the marvelous photos of Finis and other famous dancers on the right-hand side of the book and the story behind the photo on the left-hand side, the format is wonderful and easy-to-read. His honesty and clear-eyed look at the worlds of classical ballet and Broadway gave me insight into his fascinating career in dance. Having studied with Finis in New York in the 1980s, I especially loved how the book took us through his humble beginnings in Hawai’i, college, the Army, Broadway and the world-famous ballet companies that he performed with. Now I understand why I kept going back to his classes—he brought himself fully to the studio, every class was generous, inspiring and challenging. Mr. Jhung is an inspiration to not only those of us who teach dance, but to everyone who wants to live well. I recommend this book to dance lovers everywhere… Bravo Finis!!”

— Rosemary Tatum. February 11, 2018

Wonderful!!!!

— Linda Tao. February 10, 2018

“I was so fortunate to find Finis so many years ago and am proud to be his student! There is no one who can break down the mechanics of ballet like Finis, not to mention his phrasing and musicality which make his classes a complete joy! So, to be able to read about his journey is to better understand his philosophy. This book is a must read for ballet lovers. The photographs alone are priceless. Bravo Finis!”

— Amy Leshner Thomas. Feruary 10, 2018

“Bravo! This autobiography is a must read for not only dancers but for anyone interested in Show Biz or anyone just starting their careers… It’s personal, intimate, and honest. It’s a remarkable story of a boy who truly believed in himself and his dream. I love how Finis wrote not only the good highlights of his life, but the challenges too. Those parts any dancer can relate to. To be able to read a memoir of one of your very own most amazing mentors is a treat in itself! It’s so simple to read yet so full of rich details. I especially like Chapter 11 which really made me feel nostalgic of the day I first took class with Finis and my time in NY in the late 80s. I feel so proud to have been his student for a short but important time in my dancing career and to be able to read his book now, makes me feel prouder. Bravo to my teacher, Finis! I give this book a ‘standing ovation’!

— Chris Chavez. February 9, 2018

“Finis Jhung is an exceptional pedagogue. I’ve never known him to be less than candid, articulate, and inspirational Not surprisingly his book Ballet for Life embodies these very qualities as he takes us on part of his life’s journey. It was a thrill to put myself in his shoes as I read about his boyhood in Hawai’i, his dance training and professional triumphs (not to mention his association with ballet royalty like Anton Dolin and Eric Bruhn), his choreographic and entrepreneurial adventures, and his early foray into teaching. Equally inspirational (I know I’m using that word a lot) was the detailed account of his speedy recovery from hip surgery. I recommend this book not only for professional dancers but for anyone who needs courage and physical vitality. When I finished it I wanted to get right up and dance with all my soul.

— Byron Loyd. February 9, 2018

“Finis Jhung came from humble beginnings, and at age 9, told his parents that he wanted to be a famous ballet dancer someday. Jhung worked diligently and reached his goal of being an exceptional dancer. After achieving this goal, he built his business teaching ballet dancers and creating online instructional DVDs to help dancers improve their technique. Finis is an amazing man and a ballet master. In the interest of full disclosure, I attended his ballet weekend for adults a couple of years ago. Finis is an exceptional and patient instructor. The strong influence of his teachers (including the wonderful David Howard!) is evident in the way that Finis teaches. The book helped me understand that Finis overcame many technical challenges, which is unfathomable if you are lucky enough to see Finis demonstrate the elements of a pirouette, a ballet step, or ballet position. This book is loaded with rare, beautiful photos and makes Finis’ story even more compelling! Buy this book, and if you have the chance, take one of his workshops in New York City. You won’t regret either decision.”

— Bethanne Black. February 8, 2018

“Finis Jhung, Ballet for Life: A Pictorial Memoir is not only a must read for dancers and lovers of dance, but also a ‘must look’ for the richness of its many dance photos that lets you soar in their beauty and artfulness. This is an inspiring story of an individual’s destiny in an art amidst the backdrop of many period dance luminaries through his career with San Francisco Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet, Harkness Ballet, Chamber Ballet, appearing in Broadway’s “Flower Drum Song,” to teaching and coaching “the Billys” in the Broadway musical Billy Elliot, and becoming a consummate master and a teacher’s teacher of ballet dancing and technique—in the studio and through his many instructional videos. We also learn of Finis’ discovery and spiritual growth through the practice of Buddhism, family life, and overcoming adversities. Dancers and non-dancers will all enjoy the journey contained in these pages. After my own dance career I became a ballet teacher and Finis has always been an inspiration of spirit and technique for me.”

— Pamela Johnson Tanis, Former company member, Joffrey Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. February 7, 2018

“I love Finis and I love this book. He is a fantastic teacher and an inspiration to everyone.

— Nisha. February 7, 2018

“I loved this book. I loved getting to know Finis Jhung better. The photos are wonderful. Finis is an incredible teacher. I have many of his ballet videos. He has always been there with a quick email to help me pick the right video from his line. He’s even helped me find the best ballet shoes and best places to buy dance wear. It was so fun to read about his amazing, wonderful life. Next, I am lending this book to a young dancer in my class who has had a difficult dance injury to endure. I am sure this book will give this young dancer courage and inspiration.”

— J. Narus. February 7, 2018

“I devoured this book so quickly despite having fundamental knowledge of the history of ballet. Yes, it was fascinating to know about our own teacher’s life story—full disclosure: I’ve been taking Finis’ adult beginner ballet classes in person for more than 3 years, and wrote a reflection as one of his students for this book, however never really knew about his past, so his remarkable achievements and unthinkable struggles (‘Did our virtuoso teacher really have any trouble with his dancing? Really??’) were both captivating and riveting. Several chapters in, I was already visualizing an American-dream, coming-of-age drama movie with several decades of important American history from Honolulu and Hollywood to New York City. Love the rare and precious photos, too, especially the Watch Hill, Rhode Island firehouse studio ones. Those stylish scenes are so silver screen-esque!”

— Mariko Fukuyama. February 6, 2018

“From Honolulu to Broadway, via Hollywood, via the French Riviera, Finis’s life story is truly fascinating and inspirational. How a little boy from a remote island in the Pacific becomes a most sought-after ballet teacher in New York City after dazzling balletomanes around the world, makes this book a real page-turner. Ballet for Life is a must-read, not only for ballet lovers, but for anyone with big dreams, longing for optimism and wisdom.”

— Freddy Dellerm. February 5, 2018

“Whether you want to get to know legendary master ballet teacher Finis Jhung, have a general interest in ballet or are seeking motivation to embrace your goals, Finis Jhung’s Ballet for Life is for you! This pictorial memoir elegantly illustrates the story of a boy growing up in humble surroundings in Honolulu during World War II who follows his heart and manifests his dream to become a famous principal ballet dancer on the Mainland. After a glamorous life filled with prolific artistic expression and creation while engaging with royalty and celebrities around the globe, he discovers Buddhism (or Buddhism finds him), which forever changes the course of his life. This karmic detour is just the beginning of an honest and riveting memoir delving into Finis’s high and low points in his career and personal life infused with humor, tragedy, passion, dedication, and self-realization throughout—the full human experience—but as Finis says ever moving ‘Onward!’ He is a multi-faceted trailblazer in so many ways—breaking racial barriers in an elitist art and seeking the delicate balance between successfully raising his son as a single parent while also creating a truly unique teaching style that has made him a highly sought-after master ballet teacher by renowned professional dancers and non-professionals alike. I am fortunate to call Finis Jhung my ballet instructor and look forward to continuing my studies and bearing witness to this latest chapter of his ballet dance journey!”

— Wendy. February 4, 2018

“I have known Finis for 30 years and was one of his photographers. He is an amazing teacher, and this is a wonderful summary of his life and amazing career. I highly recommend it.

— John Pregulman. February 3, 2018

“There is something unique and fascinating about Finis Jhung’s Pictorial Memoir – you just cannot stop turning the pages! It is an engaging and pleasantly easy going read. There is an immediacy in the narrative, as if each event were unfolding right there, under the reader’s eyes. You feel included, living each moment together with Finis, at the same time. The beautiful and crisp photographs in black and white, on each right page of the book, reveal many important personalities in the world of dance and not only, people who touched Finis’s life and destiny. Finis honors all those who have crossed his life path, from world famous dancers, choreographers, ballet masters and mistresses to his family and friends, to his current students (of whom I am lucky enough to be one). I am grateful to Finis for sharing his life story with us, as well as for granting us the gift of dance through his classes. His Pictorial Memoir is truly inspirational, and an example for younger generations. Young people need to learn that no dream should be abandoned, but rather followed with determination, hard work and persistence, just like Finis did. I have recommended this book to my teenage students, who were astounded at both the photographs and excerpts I read to them, in my Creative Writing classes. Simply put, this book is a must read!

— Ileana Ray. January 13, 2018

“I could not put the book down; it is such an easy read with a photo to enhance further your enjoyment of what you’ve just read on the right-hand page, no flipping through to reference! You do not have to be a ballet aficionado to love this book; it is about a​ life well lived.

— Joyce DiLauro. January 29, 2018

“Thank you, Finis for the gorgeous memoir. Your story is truly extraordinary. Highly recommended reading for all dancers of every age, as well as all readers looking for a glimpse into the world of the ultimate teacher and ballet dancer. Love it!”

— Sylvia C. Lausted. January 29, 2018

“As I started to read this book, I was immediately drawn in by the stories, by the dance, by the history… By the time I finished it—and I finished it quickly, because it’s so engagingly written that I just kept turning the pages—I realized that it’s about so much more than dance. There is a universal appeal in Finis Jhung’s story—a story of a boy with an impossible dream in a world where a poor Asian kid rising to fame in the ballet world was unheard of. It is a story of perseverance, of courage, of faith. There’s real inspiration here—along with the timeless lesson that with hard work, a healthy dose of tenacity, and a clear vision, all things are possible. I would recommend Ballet for Life to lovers of ballet, certainly. But I would also recommend this book with confidence to anyone who has ever faced a mountain with the hope of making it to the top. The writing is charming, Finis’ storytelling voice is distinct, the photographs are abundant and amazing. A real pleasure to read and read again!”

— TED. January 29, 2018

“It’s impossible to put this book down… like reading a ‘who-done-it!’ Whether we start at the beginning, delve into a chapter mid-way through, or simply choose a page at random, the vivid descriptions and extraordinary photographs invite us to completely inhabit the remarkable story Finis tells. Each step of the way, Finis speaks his truth with the honesty, compassion and gratitude that he would encourage us to bring to our own lives. Read this book and you will have a deeper understanding of Finis, ballet, the dance world… and perhaps even yourself!”

— BarForb. January 28, 2018

I was enthralled…such poignant photos and lovely memories you’ve shared of your incredible accomplishments and adventures. I finished it in two days because I loved it so much.”

— M. Lampert. January 27, 2018

This magnificent memoir is such a pleasure to read, it is enhanced by dozens and dozens of beautiful photographs. I am proud to say that there are 40 by the late photographer Jack Mitchell, the majority of which were never published and thanks to Finis Jhung’s memory and his research they were found so they could be a part of this amazing memoir of his life in dance! Jack Mitchell would be so proud.”

— Craig B. Highberger. January 26, 2018

“This is a book that not only inspires but gives a deep insight into the heart and mind and spirit of what a dancer is and what the human journey is as well! I studied with Finis in the 1970s and have carried his teaching with me always. Recently returning to teaching beginning Ballet, this exquisite book is a necessity and I shall reference it often. Thank you Finis and your dear son for sharing your lives with all of us.”

— LA Snow. January 26, 2018

“A very fun and fast-moving book about a wonder filled life from the beginning to the present. It is so well written you feel like you are right there. I couldn’t put it down and read it in a few days. The struggle to become a ballet dancer was heartwarming and with pure dedication Mr. Jhung followed his dream. A must for dancers of all ages.”

— D. Lise Roth-Reese. January 26, 2018

“Finis Jhung’s story is an engaging, well-written and fascinating record of an American life played across the tumultuous days of Pearl Harbor, Broadway’s Golden Age, Hollywood and the competitive world of classical Ballet. In every phase of his life, Jhung demonstrates a nimbleness (pun intended) and ability to evolve with great success. For the last four decades, he has served as one of New York City’s most successful Ballet teachers for dancers across the spectrum – from elite concert dancers, to Broadway gypsies, to adult beginners. This book captures the excitement of a life driven by a passion for dance and self-discovery.

— J. Deer. January 25, 2018

“Although I suggest starting at the beginning (!), open this book to any page and be immediately caught up in Ballet for Life, Finis Jhung’s choreographic mix of pictures that conjure up stories and words that add unforgettable color. Generous towards others, unflinchingly honest with himself, Finis’s wit and wisdom cannot help but to inspire one (me!) to smile and to declare, ‘Onward’ in their own lives. Reading about Finis’s first introduction to Buddhism, to his becoming a ‘religious fanatic’ (his words), to living its precepts in an ordinary way makes a lot of sense. His memoir seems to have been guided by such concepts. More profound than sitting on a mountain top in the middle of Manhattan–or wherever!”

— Marie Paquet Nesson. January 25, 2018

“Whether you know Finis or not, his story is unique yet universal and serves as an inspiration to all who read it. My first memories of Finis are from second grade in World War II Honolulu. We have shared memories of air raid drills at school where we would go to underground bomb shelters. We rode on the public bus system together at times, and, in high school, we worked on the school newspaper. I always believed that Finis would succeed in a big way and he exceeded all expectations. His natural artistic talent, his hard work ethic and his fearlessness as he left his home in Hawai’i for the winters of Utah and an expanding world of artistry in dance led him to great accomplishments that he has shared with others. He has lived a compelling life and is vibrant, active and strong, I encourage you to read his book and share it with your friends.

— Agnes Conradt. January 23, 2018

I received my copy yesterday and could not put it down… I have studied ballet with Finis in NYC and his teaching saved my life and restored my faith … love this book as he takes us through his personal journey through dance history first hand … thank you Finis for sharing your story!”

— Diane Lam. January 23, 2018

“Order this book today… you will not be disappointed. Beautiful ballet pictures abound throughout the book and each is accompanied by an explanation of the ‘who, what and where’ of the picture. From his birth in Hawai’i to the stages around the world, Finis takes us on a magical trip, full of dance and life’s lessons. This is a great gift. Budding ballerinas will love it, as well as older dancers. I am giving this book to my 13-year old granddaughter who is now taking ballet. I am also going to take a copy to her dance studio for their library! The quality is exceptional, and the price is right. If you love books and ballet, you will love this!”

— Jane Coyle. January 23, 2018

“I just received my pre-ordered copy yesterday! I’m halfway through because I can’t put it down! Not only has Maestro Finis shared his knowledge and life experiences as a teacher, now he has shared his life with us! His classes and videos (and mentoring) made me a better dancer and teacher, his generosity has made me a better person! This book, so beautifully and lovingly written, invites the reader into the world of ballet, of life! For all these reasons, it will be one I share with my students, as I do with Kirsten & Balanchine’s Complete Stories of the Great Ballets and Apollo’s Angels. Thank you for this gift, Maestro!

— ExBallerina. January 23, 2018

“When I was in need of serious mind and body recuperation, a friend suggested Finis Jhung and his superb technique of training both mind and body. I had come from a background of training with the Doris Jones Ballet School in Washington DC and The American School Of Ballet, and Finis helped to put me back on my feet again. He is a true artist–as you will see when you read this book. Thank you, Finis, for making strong, balanced bodies and minds.”

— Chita Rivera,
Broadway Icon, Tony®-Winning Actress, Singer, Dancer

“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!”

— Andy Blankenbuehler
Three-time Tony® winning Broadway Choreographer (Hamilton, Bandstand, In the Heights)
Director, Dancer

“I met Finis when I was performing my first principal roles as a corps de ballet member, and he immediately knew I would make it to the top. He seemed to have this sixth sense that can’t be taught. After reading his story and learning about his devotion to Buddhism and how it completely changed his outlook on life, I was inspired to see life with that same clarity and compassion. Finis’s life journey as a dancer, turned Buddhist leader, turned ballet teacher and coach has not only motivated me to aspire to achieve my greatest dreams and hopes, but also to allow my journey to be never-ending and unexpected.

— Sara Mearns
Principal Dancer, The New York City Ballet

“Something in Finis Jhung’s deeply lived experience of dance afforded him the vision and the voice to lead dancers to a refined freedom of engagement through the exquisite challenges of ballet’s demands. His considerations of the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of classical practice have left their indelible mark on generations of artists like myself, who still feel the influence of his practical clarity.”

— William Forsythe
Professor of Dance and Artistic Advisor,
Choreographic Institute at the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance

“Finis Jhung has had a long and remarkable career as dancer, teacher, choreographer and company artistic director, and now he has written a pictorial biography that beautifully describes his life in dance. His devotion to the art of ballet is palpable and his search for knowledge is ongoing. This biography is complete and compelling, touching and honest. The photographs are exquisite. All dance fans will be happy to have this book.”

— Lawrence Rhodes
Artistic Director Emeritus, The Juilliard School Dance Division

“Learning from his own experiences, Finis Jhung truly did it his way and became an iconic teacher and master of ballet. Finis’s story will enlighten those who have made dance their life, and it will give you an appreciation of the struggles which took him from Hawaii to New York.”

— Cynthia Harvey
Artistic Director
American Ballet Theatre’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School

“Finis Jhung is a compelling, elegant and exciting teacher. I have benefited from his classes through the years and have truly been enriched by them. May he continue to pass on his wisdom for many years to come.”

— Dame Gillian Lynne DBE

“Finis Jhung’s memoir, at its heart, is a uniquely American tale of trials and tribulations met with strength and determination. It encapsulates the incredibly demanding journey to success in the world of ballet. I flew through every page and loved every anecdote. Cheers to a beautiful book, a beautiful story of an artist and a beautiful human being.

— Adam Sklute
Director, Ballet West

“Finis Jhung’s beautifully-written memoir of self-transcendence, from a poor student in Honolulu to a world-renowned dancer on Broadway and with the Joffrey and Harkness Ballet companies, culminates in his work as a Master Ballet Teacher whose wisdom helps countless dancers become their personal best!”

— Linda Hamilton, Ph.D.
Performance Psychologist
Author, The Dancer’s Way: The New York City Ballet Guide to Mind, Body, and Nutrition

“This is a must-read for aspiring dancers, seasoned dancers, patrons and dance aficionados alike! This is a real journey through every unimaginable obstacle to famed success. The passion, the daily commitment and pure joy and love for ballet seeps from each page. From his eloquent words to the wonderful photographs, Finis’s heart-warming biography will inspire you to love ballet that much more. Finis is a treasure in our industry. I absolutely loved this book!

— Michèle Assaf
Producer, Director/Choreographer;
Founder/Artistic Director, World Dance Movement – The International Festival

Ballet for Life is an enjoyable, informative and inspiring account of a performing career that happened during a time of rapid ascendancy for American ballet. Finis was in the heart of it; his influence as a performing artist and as a teacher cuts across a broad swath of ballet companies stylistically, geographically and generationally. This memoir is an illuminating account of his own career, of falling down and getting up and of moving forward. Using captivating photography as his inspiration, Finis guides us through his remarkable life story. He is an important contributor to ballet in America. Finis’s that contribution is both revealed and enhanced in his pictorial memoir that can be readily enjoyed by anyone.”

— Daniel Duell
Artistic Director, Ballet Chicago

Wonderfully personal, intimate and engaging, Finis beautifully shares all the challenges, self-doubts, hard work and triumphant exhilaration that he experienced as he developed his craft and artistry. His extraordinary performances with the Harkness Ballet made an indelible impression on all who were lucky enough to witness them. His post-performance career as a preeminent ballet teacher is clearly the result of his humility, spirituality and his appreciation of every student’s unique gifts. Generations of his students are grateful!”

— Joan Finkelstein
Executive Director, The Harkness Foundation for Dance

“Not surprisingly, Finis writes in the same manner in which he teaches and lives: truthfully, insightfully, unapologetically. While most ballet instructors teach and pass on unchangeable systems of ballet technique, Finis insists on an ever-evolving application of empirical, demonstrable, kinetic truths. His is a profound simplicity distilled from years and years of keen observation and tireless application. Read his story and consider his insights. You’re sure to find yourself growing, both in and out of the studio.

— Lawrence Rosenberg
Executive Director, Anaheim Ballet;
Dance Faculty, Chapman University

“From the very first photo of two-year-old Finis (ankles gently crossed in potential 5th position) until the last, I could not put down this inspiring, moving story of a life lived in service to dance. Finis offers abundant insights into his rich journey and his guiding Buddhist philosophy as he celebrates family, luminaries and humble students alike. While placing each deeply described and illustrated memory into vivid historical context, he teaches and entertains — and we learn, laugh and cry with him. I will return to this engrossing memoir again and again.”

— Barbara Forbes
Feldenkrais Practitioner;
Dance Faculty, Sara Lawrence College

“Like my favorite choreography, Ballet For Life: A Pictorial Memoir flows easily with frequent surprise twists and turns. We follow Finis’s journey from the adorable five-year old in World War II Hawaii (with the required gas mask around his neck!) to the man of wisdom and humor whom the ballet world both reveres and adores. Finis’s memoir will touch every dancer’s heart. Be prepared to smile, groan, cheer and tear up. Hesitate not. Read this book now!

— Marie Paquet Nesson
Author, Ballet to the Corps

“Finis Jhung dreamed an impossible dream, but that didn’t stop him from reaching for the stars. In the process, he became the inspiration for many of us who did not fit into traditional dance molds. Every dancer felt welcomed among the throngs of ballet stars crowding his studio — all of us clamoring to sign in before the class filled up. Finis’s book reads like a dance history journal, full of iconic personalities spanning the worlds of ballet, Broadway and film. Most touching are his frank descriptions of his own shortcomings — which, in time, informed his teaching. Perhaps the biggest takeaway: above all else, one must remain inquisitive and discerning. This book is a must-read for all who love dance!

—Bonnie Oda Homsey
Director, Los Angeles Dance Foundation;
Chair of Dance, The Princess Grace Foundation USA

“This extraordinary book beautifully shows the connection between the past and the future, illustrated with a treasure trove of photography. Here on the page is Finis the dancer, Buddhist, mentor and teacher extraordinaire in warm, personal, prose! I love all of it!

— Julie Caprio
Artistic Director, Ballet Technique and Hamilton Ballet Theatre

“For the first time, dance legend and luminary Finis Jhung shares his incredible story of finding strength and balance through ballet and Buddhism. Even as a young boy, Finis knew that his path to fulfillment was through dance. The dreams of a child are not fulfilled by magic, nor deterred by distance or divides. From the chaos of World War II Hawaii through a marvelous professional career crossing continents and cultures, Finis’s passion for ballet has lit his way. Ballet for Life is Finis Jhung’s first-ever complete retelling of his singular experiences. Travel with Finis on his inspirational journey from his humble childhood home in Hawaii through his career on Broadway and beyond. Enjoy his distinctly witty perspective and profound teachings that have helped him to overcome life’s hardship and heartaches. More than merely a celebration of a remarkable career, Ballet for Life is a tribute to the many wonderful and compassionate people that made it all possible. Today, Finis’s story continues and he credits ballet and Buddhism for the spirit and vitality that allow him to keep coming up with new and better ways to teach. At the heart of personal growth is a focus on the future that has prevented a formal retrospective — until now.”

— Robert Solomon
Writer, Publicist

Ballet for Life proves that hard work and determination can overcome any obstacle. Through his teaching, Finis transformed how I see movement. I became a better student because of his quest to understand how the movement ‘actually happens.’ Now my mentor, who continually opens my eyes and inspires me, Finis brings his unique voice and faith to the page. We will all learn from his journey.

—Beverly Spell
Leap ’N Learn

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$3 – additional copies
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All Other Countries $35