95 5-Star Reviews!
Updated February 25, 2019
“FIVE STARS! REMARKABLE! A remarkable biography: so easy to read, full of images and wonderful memories of a dancer’s world. Finis’s experience is an American success story of a life in the arts as a dancer, performer, director, and master teacher.”
—Suzy K. February 25, 2019
“FIVE STARS! GREAT BOOK FOR LOVERS OF BALLET AND LIFE! This precious book takes us along Finis’s journey, each highlight illustrated by one or more photos from the time period. He looks back through his life, and brings us all forward with him, up to his present vibrant days as a teacher par excellence in New York City. The thread of what becomes his eventual Buddhist philosophy peeks out even in his youth. The difficulties of those early years are imbued with a sense of grace, even as he seems stuck in Hawaii with no place to really develop his art. Some part of him knows that he is destined for a life of ballet and that nothing can truly or definitively derail him from his path. His strong work ethic and ambition propel him into situations in which he can flourish, drawing him to other serious dancers and choreographers. Our connections with others do help define us, and the wonderful dancers Finis works with along the way add to the richness of his life, even as he adds his wonderful energy to theirs. The book dances along with wonderful impetus, and we want to know what will happen next! I read it the first time entirely too quickly, and now am rereading it, savoring the details in a whole new way. Even those completely unfamiliar with ballet will find themselves intrigued and enlightened. We delight in the good times of Finis’ life and as he moves through the downturns, he is aware that there is some lesson to be learned, some knowledge to take forward into the next phase.This reader contemplates her own life more fondly, wondering why we don’t all write our pictorial memoirs!”
—Matt Z. February 18, 2019
“FIVE STARS! A LIFE WELL LIVED. Imagine sitting on a floral print sofa in a glass enclosed sun porch on a snowy afternoon listening to an outrageously talented friend with a soothing voice tell you his life story and illustrate the tale with fabulous photographs. That’s what it’s like to read Finis Jhung’s Ballet for Life. Jhung’s literary tone is conversational and unaffected. The reader hears about his early life in Hawaii, his dream of becoming a principal dancer, and the fruition of that dream in the Joffrey and Harkness ballet companies. There are personal stories about performing in Rogers and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song on Broadway and running Chamber Ballet USA. Finis is honest and matter of fact in his telling; his ego doesn’t get in the way. The part of the book that deals with his teaching at studios in New York City is especially colourful. He’s hustling. He’s formulating his teaching style. He’s hiring accompanists. He’s getting a following. He’s teaching pros. He’s teaching absolute beginners. It draws you into the world of ‘taking class.’ The testimonials of students are not mere promotional sound bites but stories of how Finis Jhung’s teaching changed people’s lives. The best part of the Kindle edition is that the photos can be expanded. You can zoom in on the facial expressions of the dancers and the patterns in their costumes. You can look into the windows of the Broadway Dance Center and get a close up view of the calf pumps Finis wore after his hip surgery. Finis Jhung brings the reader into his world and shares with us the richness of a life lived in artistry, love, and gratitude.”
—Juno Beach, February 4, 2019
“BEAUTIFUL READ. This book is a compelling read for any serious dance student who is trying to carve out a career in the ballet world. It’s refreshingly honest and brings the reader on a journey of highs and lows which will leave you spellbound. Enjoy it all.”
— Alan Foley, FISTD. January 31, 2019.
“Loved the book and the photographs are such fun. As Finis fulfilled his own dreams through hard work, talent and determination he graciously acknowledges all those who helped and encouraged him along the way. He now helps and encourages young and old dancers alike to fulfill their own potential. They, in turn, lovingly write about how he has influenced them.”
—Marilyn K Riehl, January 7, 2019
“Great read! Once I started reading, I couldn’t put the book down. What a fascinating rich life Finis has led. His story is told through a very easy casual style that makes you feel like you are sitting having a conversation with Finis himself. And that story is so interesting and inspiring. While many of us dance enthusiasts can only dream of a professional career, Finis has danced with and taught an impressive who’s who of the dance world, yet his story is still very relatable. His honest depiction of his triumphs and struggles show how no one’s journey in life is a straight path and different decisions and opportunities affect its course, yet when you stay true to your passions you will be guided along. A wonderful and inspiring read for dancers and non-dancers alike!”
— KBon, January 5, 2019
“Finis Jhung tells his engaging personal and professional story against the backdrops of Honolulu in wartime, then college in Utah, and the world class stages of the ballet world. A great read for anyone interested in the performing arts!”
— Katherine McQuiston, January 2, 2019
“Here is an opportunity to discover and learn about some incredible dance legends. Finis Jhung has lived such an amazing life as a true artist. I’m so happy that he has finally shared his memories with the world in this book. What a delightful read.”
— Marla Bingham, December 10, 2018
“Finis’s pictorial memoir is a gem of a book. Like a perfectly executed pirouette, it has a superb structure, swift movement of the writing style, and a mesmerizing quality of photos. A result is a literary creation that is dazzling, both in rarity and beauty. It is next-to-impossible to put the book down, even when you only wanted to take a peek. And, once finished, almost immediately you want go back and start looking and reading again. Like a timeless ballet classic, it stays with you long after its ‘performance’ is finished. What stayed with me most was the beauty and courage of Finis’s life as a person, the precious chronicles of American ballet unfolding during his lifetime, and — not the least — the testimonies of the real people from many and varied walks of life who have come to know and embody the beauty of ballet because of Finis’s teaching. Bravo, Finis. Bravo!!!”
—Natalya A. S.
“When I moved to NYC to dance with a ballet company in 1978, there were several important teachers in the city. I had good potential, but I was thrown onstage with little training and had to fake it. Ballet is very hard to fake. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I really wanted to learn. The most highly-regarded teachers at the time were David Howard and Finis Jhung, and one of my best friends in the ballet company, Sanson Candelaria, suggested I take class with Finis. I found his studio filled with the most important dancers in New York: classical ballet dancers, Broadway gypsies, modern dancers, tappers – a Who’s Who of the dance world at the time. He has maintained this reputation since he taught his first class, and for very good reason. He knows his stuff and can help you dance better no matter where you are on the learning curve.
“His marvelous book, Ballet for Life is an exceptional additional to literature on ballet, as well as to the theatrical canon and, really, life and biography itself. In lively, lucid prose Finis reveals his childhood and early career in vivid detail, chronicling his life and how his it was shaped by the events of the time. He describes growing up in Hawaii and the struggles that he had to overcome in a provincial environment that really didn’t understand dance. He deftly touches upon the issues that someone with East Asian features had with the white-white-white and heteronormative world of ballet. He outlines the travails that led to his career in a wonderful behind-the-curtain look at the world of post-WWII ballet and theatre. His ultimate disillusionment with the dance world (in Monte Carlo no less) is treated frankly and without the usual tortured emotional histrionics that are so typical in other artistic memoirs. We learn about his work creating a very innovative ballet company during the 1980s and his return to teaching. Though he became one of the most remarkable and sought-after teachers in the world, Finis doesn’t toot his own horn. He doesn’t have to, as his reputation speaks for itself.
“Perhaps, among the most revelatory and informative chapters concern his hip replacement surgery and his road to recovery. His narrative on this will surely be helpful to both dancers and non-dancers alike who must face this challenge. Again, it is told with Finis’ simple and compassionate worldview and a discerning eye for those details that can instruct. This ability to see such things so clearly is really, I would argue, what makes his classes and life story illuminating to others.
“I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to learn about, not only ballet and the theatrical world in the post WWII era, but for those who are curious as to how a great teacher and a great person evolves and endures. It’s fun and lively read.”
—Michael P. McKinley
“Finis’ story is unique in many ways, and with the memoir told through both pictures and text, it is a story worth hearing again and again. I have known Finis for many years and loved seeing his story play out from humble beginnings in pre-statehood Hawaii to life in the Big Apple. He is a wonderful teacher and immensely creative. Loved the book!”
“This is an incredible book: truthful and insightful. I highly recommend it. Finis tells his story with honesty, sensitivity, and care.”
— Backyard Orchardist, Amazon
“Having been a student, then a professional dancer for twenty-one years, I truly enjoyed experiencing Mr. Jhung’s journey in becoming one of the world’s most popular and notable dancers. The book exemplifies what true love and perseverance can accomplish. I have been teaching ballet for thirty-six years, having my own studio for twenty-five of those years, and can honestly attest to value one can receive from Ballet For Life and all of Mr. Jhung’s instructional DVDs. Bravo Mr. Jhung.”
— Amazon Customer
“This book is a journey through the life of a great person and dancer. It is simple, beautiful and extraordinary. Each page breathes life. Each photo drags you in a fascinating story. Finis has the ability to take you through a marvelous journey with that lightness and passion of a dancer for life. So very inspiring. Thank you, Maestro!”
— Sammyfish, October 20, 2018
“Finis Jhung’s Ballet for Life: A Pictorial Memoir mirrors the man himself: Concise, yet detailed. Controlled, yet fluid. Reserved, yet revealing – with elegance and originality overseeing all.
“The moving memoir’s title – a metaphoric play-on-words – reflects Jhung’s long and illustrious career as a renowned ballet dance and master teacher. It, also, illuminates his philosophy, methodology, and principles for life itself.
“Brimming with some 300 black-and-white photos, Ballet for Life chronicles not only Jhung’s private and professional life, but also documents a broader context of dance and social history.
“Indeed, social history, autobiography, artistry and everyday life converge in Jhung’s simple yet sophisticated style of memoir: a straightforward, self-reflexive juxtaposition of photos and text. Ballet for Life is an unfolding portrait of an artist as a child, young man, acclaimed performer and seasoned teacher.
“Each photo of family members, dance colleagues, spiritual mentors or Jhung himself is paired on the opposite page with telling commentary about the people, time and place – literary ‘stage left’ and ‘stage right’ reflections of intimate recollections.
“Onto his stage steps young Finis Jhung in a story that pirouettes from his formative years – his childhood in Hawai’i, his family background of trials and tribulations, separation, sacrifice and support to his singular discipline and determination to become a professional dancer.
“The story moves him from baby steps to hula steps in Honolulu, from island dance studios to mainland dance studies at the University of Utah, from New York City and Broadway to the Harkness, Robert Joffrey and San Francisco ballet companies. While still in prime performing years, Finis adopts Buddhist principles and practice and, shockingly, renounces his stardom, gives up dancing and his dancer’s identity to further show his commitment to his spiritual path. He even burns his precious film footage of legendary danseur noble Erik Bruhn and other archival material.
“Heartbreak and happiness – born of and by decades as a practicing Buddhist – pervade the book as Finis wends his way back to ballet, founding, directing and choreographing for his own Chamber Ballet USA company and becoming a master teacher.
“At age 80, Finis briefly takes time off to undergo hip replacement surgery and recovery, which he documents in detail in his book, and then resumes his active and current teaching schedule.
“Finis, also, sets the stage for other luminaries, who are part of the larger dance legacy, to be seen. Among these influential and inspirational dancers, teachers, choreographers and producers are Erik Bruhn, Antony Tudor, Alexandra Danilova, Robert Joffrey, Alvin Aliey, William F. Christensen, Rebekah Harkness, Lawrence Rhodes, Michael Smumin, Helgi Tomasson, Michelle Wiles and Isabella Boylston, both of whom studied with Finis and appear in some of his more-than-50 instructional dance videos, which are available to anyone.
“Further, Ballet for Life is filled with details of Finis’ teaching philosophy and principles (both ballet and Buddhist), analysis of his own early dance technique and performance struggles and his subsequent findings that have contributed to his unique instructional methodology. These insights inspire and correct career professionals and general adult dancers to whom he has committed his current efforts.
“Finis concludes his memoir with heartfelt testimonies of colleagues and students. It is easy to see why the renowned dancer and master teacher is so respected, so revered and beloved by his family, friends, students, colleagues and critics.
“No wonder, as Finis Jhung, says at the end of his memoir, ‘I feel stronger and happier than ever. I am blessed.’
“With Ballet for Life, so are we.”
“So inspiring!! I could not put the book down. Love that the pictures directly connected with what was written. Just LOVELY!!”
—Queenie, September 24, 2018
“I loved reading Finis’s book and highly recommend it to both dancers and non-dancers. The beautiful photographs are plentiful and an amazing ‘dance’ down memory lane. Finis’s life is truly fascinating. With honesty, Finis explores his early childhood in Hawai’i, his dance training and career highs and lows, his spiritual life, family life, recent hip replacement surgery, and his extensive teaching career and dance business. During Finis’s esteemed performing career (on stage and on film), his path crossed with major dance figures (such as Alvin Ailey, Robert Joffrey, David Howard, Alexandra Danilova, Helgi Tomasson, Virginia Johnson, William Christensen, Lawrence Rhodes, Gwen Verdon, John Butler, Anthony Tudor, Anton Dolin, Rebekah Harkness, Donald Saddler, Erik Bruhn, and others). Finis has led an extraordinary life and continues to do so. You will be inspired by his life story and intrigued by his historical dance recollections. I’ve known Finis for many years (I take his ballet classes, substitute teach for him, and have appeared in three of his instructional DVDs). Yet, I learned so much more about both dance history and Finis as a multifaceted person, from reading his book. This is a must-read autobiography. Enjoy!”
—Melissa Elstein, September 15, 2018
“Reading this book was like seeing history come alive. Finis Jhung’s tales of who he danced with and what that was like were amazing. And then to bring it up to who he is now and how he lives and teaches at the age of 80 is just incredible, and really inspiring. Not to mention the photos! I could leaf through those again and again. Can you imagine: a casual photo from 1962 of Donald Saddler, Robert Joffrey, and Alvin Ailey?! Finis truly was the ‘Forest Gump’ of the ballet world: he was there, everywhere. And this book gives you a real sense of what his journey was like. Highly recommended!”
—Judy Levin, September 3, 2018
“I could not put this book down. It’s so real, and as a teacher here in San Francisco, it brought me back to New York reliving all the experiences you have had. Not only are you a talented artist, teacher, mentor and professional but you have created a masterpiece. Special thanks to your son for his contribution as well. I plan to read the book again. Thank you so much.”
Kathy, August 24, 2018
“What a wonderful memoir of words and photos of Finis Jhung’s interesting life. I began studying with Finis many years ago when I was a professional dancer and recently came back to his class after a long hiatus. I always knew he was a masterful teacher and reading this book really gave me insight into how he developed into the person he is today. He is an inspiration to everyone who walks into his class, from the beginner to former professionals who want to dance again. I love learning about the life of a man who I have admired for a very long time. I feel fortunate to have him as a teacher who helped developed me as a dancer, performer and dance teacher. His philosophy not only works in ballet but other forms of movement. I did not realize how much he influenced my style of teaching until I came back to take class myself. Thank you Finis for all you do for the professional dancer, the adult babies and even those that have never taken your class but enjoyed reading about the beauty, fun, hard work, ups and downs of a dancer’s life.”
—Gift Girl, August 6, 2018
“[I] have always been an avid reader from the time I was young to now. Today, most of my reading revolves around my faith and my career in the dance education field. What I found so fascinating about Mr. Jhung’s memoir is as I read through the story of his incredible life journey, I began to hear his voice. I have studied his published educational library and DVD collection. It was a joy to see the merging of the history of his life and his teaching career through his published work.
“While reading, my mind drifted to times where I sat around a teacher or a story teller without embellishment. I appreciated that Mr. Jhung included photos in his story (great word pictures) and distinct memories from his extraordinary life that left an impression on me, as a student and reader. His story exposes the life and spirit of an authentic person who, throughout the life of his career, journeyed with great integrity and wisdom, overcame so many mountains, and who to this day, desires to impact the lives of those who follow.
“There where multiple moments in the book that I smiled at; whether relating to quotes that sparked my memory that my own teachers and mentors expressed to me during growing up years or those he shared that carried little surprising elements and pearls.
“Finis Jhung’s Ballet For Life: A Pictorial Memoir is a treasured addition to your ballet library. There are gems hidden throughout the book. It was so touching as I was reading. Mr. Jhung, whose own career and life are incredibly impressive at every crossroads, credits so many others throughout his writings. This speaks to the character of the author.
“For example, one moment that he shared came from a quote from a teacher who impacted his life: ‘One weekly dance lesson will not produce a dancer, but this lesson can be an enriching experience physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.’ Whether you are raising professional students, enriching the lives of students in a smaller community (like myself), or are blessed by inspiration as you seek to pursue a professional career, there are gold nuggets throughout the book that are relatable and inspiring. He defines a purpose and affirms a teacher’s calling. Mr. Jhung is clearly a gracious man who pays tribute to so many of the professionals and individuals who impacted his life.
“He is a legend, a true master of his profession, an overcomer, clearly beloved and a gentle man. His ballet techniques are creative and rooted in sage advice; his common sense yet brilliant and original, artistic examples are ingenious and life applicable. I appreciate the time and investment he has made in making his teachings available to ballet teachers everywhere. It is a blessing to learn from him. I am privileged and very much looking forward to attending Mr. Jhung’s NYC workshop for ballet teachers summer 2018. This memoir is his legacy. Enjoy!”
—Heather Rose, August 2, 2018
“Beautifully written book with beautiful pictures. I went through all the pictures first before I read it. It really is a treasure for any dancer you know. I got an autographed copy for my daughter’s ballet teacher and he was very touched by the gift. I made the other moms who just got him Starbuck’s gift cards jealous!.”
—Amazon Customer, July 26, 2018
“Ballet for Life is a must have for every ballet lover’s library. The pictures are beautiful, and it is a glimpse into a life well lived with spirituality, grace and determination. Finis will no doubt have a place in history as one of the most influential people in ballet dance and ballet dance education. This is a book to read and re-read. Lucky to live on the east coast, I am in awe, inspired (and determined too!) every time I walk into class with Finis Jhung.”
—Judith R Elins, July 15, 2018
“If you’ve ever studied ballet with Finis via his wonderful videos or classes, I would say this book is a must have. It adds so much to the experience, knowing where he is coming from. Of course, anyone would find the book extremely interesting. The pictures alone are fantastic and as I read through his story, many times I found myself relating in a small way and thinking – what would I have done in that situation? His reflections are thoughtful and gracious. It was interesting to learn about some of the dancers who have demonstrated in his ballet videos, and the stories from his adult ballet students were touching and inspiring.”
—Leslie, July 9, 2018
“What’s it like to dance with Erik Bruhn, take class with Alexandra Danilova, work with top choreographers, discover how to execute the perfect pirouette, struggle with double tours, dance in Hollywood, Broadway, all over the world? This is the unlikely success story of an exquisite principal dancer and his unusual journey as choreographer/dance company founder/master teacher/entrepreneur. Has appeal for teachers, professional dancers, students, and just plain ballet lovers. And the photographs are stunning!”
—Carol Ohta, July 6, 2018
“When Finis Jhung was a young boy growing up in Hawaii, he dreamed of becoming a ballet dancer. And he did, dancing with Joffrey Ballet, Harkness Ballet, and on Broadway. See the photo of Finis at age ten holding his seven-year-old partner. From there follow the path of Finis’s life from photo to photo—and from one engaging telling of his life’s events to the next—until you reach the end of Ballet for Life: A Pictorial Memoir and find Finis a renowned ballet teacher who believes dance can be a part of anyone’s life. In both his teaching and his memoir, Finis shares techniques and insights, along with determination and inspiration.”
—Donna G. June 24, 2018
“Finis has written an articulate book of high interest to anyone, not just dancers. As well as being a beautiful pictorial book, he shares intimately with his audience in this book as he always has as a master teacher in his classes.”
—Deanna McBrearty, June 11, 2018
“What a rare and extraordinary life Finis Jhung has lived! He writes with a light, direct clarity that carries the reader effortlessly through eight decades. As with all lives there are struggles, triumphs, wobbles, successes, opportunities and losses. But different from most lives are Finis Jhung’s gifts and how he harnesses and utilizes them. Over the course of his life he is an elite dancer, superb ballet teacher, devoted Buddhist, artistic director, choreographer and exceptional parent. He communicates with an intelligent focus that disarms distraction and clutter.
“Ballet for Life has pages and pages of photographs. Certainly, many of these have never been published. As a ballet teacher, Finis is well practiced in physically demonstrating what he is relaying with words. These lovely photos illustrate his narrative specifically and beautifully in much the same way. They are a mix of professional photography and snapshots that keep the reader engaged, oriented and in awe of their subjects.
“This is a remarkable story written by a man who has created a unique path through life. Along the way he has influenced and shaped numerous other’s lives. Many dancers have tremendous gratitude for his ongoing, dedicated work. With Finis Jhung’s example, we can all learn how to continue to dance through life’s changes and challenges. It is a book for these times. Ballet for Life is a pictorial memoir I strongly suggest you read.”
— Amazon Customer, May 28, 2018
“A fascinating journey through photos and stories. I could not put this book down. Mr. Jhung shares with us his triumphs, personal struggles, and his never-give-up philosophy. A gifted dancer, choreographer and master teacher. I am grateful for the life lessons learned from this memoir.”
— Carol Monaco. May 7, 2018
“I am very fond of Finis’s writing style: to the point and entertaining. I was greatly surprised by the number of photos included which truly brought the story to life. Ballet for Life is a thorough memoir telling of Finis’s life from birth to the present. It has been quite interesting to learn so many details about this ballet great. I would certainly recommend every dancer read this book for enjoyment and inspiration.”
— Maria I. May 7, 2018
“I am delighted by this book. Not only is it informative and full of specific stories of a remarkable life in the world of ballet, the physical craftsmanship of the book is satisfying to hold and behold. The richness of the black ink, the smooth gradient in the shading, the vivid contrast on each page—they make every image all the more captivating. This book presents the words and images of the memoir beautifully and would make a great gift.”
— Jason Schadt. May 3, 2018
“A very well-written, thoughtfully presented memoir that continues to inspire and enlighten me. I was very fortunate to be one of his students for several years when I lived in Manhattan, so I have personal memories to cherish and relive, as well. His life is well-lived and guided by a dedicated spiritual practice; he is also unique among teachers of movement, and I credit his methods with my ability to continue to perform and teach in my own career, much longer than most would think even possible. I have no negative comments— was sorry to see it end!”
— Nanette C. Ledet. April 29, 2018
“Ballet for Life is every bit as wonderful as Finis Jhung himself! The story and photos of his childhood and younger years on stage are the most fantastic parts! Don’t miss out.”
— S. Spencer. April 26, 2018
“Finis’s book was great! I’ve been a long-time Finis fan and it was so interesting to read about the path that led him to where he is today. Much love to Finis and best wishes!”
— Mara Perugini, April 26, 2018
“This memoir is such an interesting read. It is generously illustrated with amazing photographs and each paragraph of writing tells a unique story. There is reference to many ballets throughout the book, leaving the reader with a broader picture of those who have chosen a career in ballet. Finis Jhung’s personal journey is of course the highlight of the book.”
— Judith Chestnut. April 26, 2018
“From the moment I opened this book I was completely engaged in reading about the amazing life of this wise and insightful artist. Such an interesting and expansive career that crossed so many decades. I especially enjoyed the mixture of pictures and stories allowing me to put faces to the names. Learning about all of the obstacles he has overcome and triumphs he has achieved was truly inspirational. How Finis deals with the peaks and valleys of life would be relevant for many walks of life. I would highly recommend this book for dancers as well as non-dancers.”
—Lisa Twamley. April 18, 2018
“It’s wonderful to experience a life of dance set in its historic context. Finis provides us with the events, experiences and people that along the way helped shape and advance his remarkable journey as we truly see and read about here in Ballet for Life: A Pictorial Memoir.
“After the book was published and not living in NYC anymore, I watched his “trailer” online. I wrote to Finis to tell him I was literally riveted to what I was seeing and reading (I may have been holding my breath in anticipation of what lay ahead in the book). Finis has a gift for conveying what matters – with honesty and practicality – when he communicates through his teaching and writing. He is a teacher in the full sense of the word and one whom many feel has a spiritual presence.
“I met Finis as a student when he was realizing a gratifyingly rich new role for himself in ballet in focusing on adult students (often older) returning to dance classes after a long hiatus as well as those who were ‘absolute beginners.’ And those of us who thought our dance class days were over recognized an opportunity when we saw it and began pouring into his classes like there was no tomorrow; fortunately there was and continues to be!
“I feel the many reflective/testimonial statements throughout the book from his former mentors, colleagues, his (former) Chamber Ballet, USA, company members, students (former and current) are worth their weight in gold in defining the impact Finis has had on so many, many artists and people from all walks of life.”
—Suzanne White Manning. April 18, 2018
“As one who has considerable familiarity with the history of ballet in America, it was very interesting for me to discover how Finis Jhung’s life journey intersected the lives of so many iconic dancers, choreographers, dance teachers, and impresarios throughout the development of dance in the United States. In a documentary style which transports the reader into a fly-on-the-wall perspective as if witnessing the story unfold, Finis describes his encounters, challenges, and hard work, inclusive of everything that he felt from elation and love to moments of frustration and indecision. Photos on every other page (some photos never-before-published) contribute tremendous dimension… how refreshing to discover that studying history does not have to entail enduring endless dry statements of facts! Ballet for Life follows Finis from his childhood in Honolulu to the beginnings of his more formalized dance training as a college student at the University of Utah in 1955 to his career as a professional dancer in the 1960’s to his transition to teaching in the 1970s to his dance company Chamber Ballet USA in the early 1980s to his continued career as a Master Teacher in 2018 at 80-years-old.
“Ballet for Life offers a unique view of the development of the art form from the perspective of a dancer of color. It is an inspiration to learn that Finis (Korean-Scottish-English) more than capably broke through the racial glass ceiling. He danced leading roles at the U of Utah. He achieved soloist and principal dancer status with the San Francisco and Harkness Ballet Companies. Most significantly, Finis Jhung became the first prominent Asian ballet teacher in New York, and he continues to be recognized today as a revolutionary ballet teacher through his ballet classes and instructional videos. I am already recommending Ballet for Life as a must-read for my ballet students of color.
“The book is well-organized into eras of time with clear titles so that the reader can easily skip around without becoming confused because of not having read previous chapters. Even though it’s difficult to put down, this is a pleasurable book to read for one with a busy schedule who cannot devote more than a 1/2 hour to leisure reading here and there. In addition, the titles of the chapters make the book useful as a resource for research. Finis’s story adds breadth and depth to what has already been explored in writings about the history of dance in America, and I find myself wishing that this memoir would continue beyond its last page. In the wise words of Finis Jhung: ‘Onward!’”
Irene Cho Large. April 17,2018
“I absolutely loved Finis Jhung’s book Ballet for Life: A Pictorial Memoir. I studied with Finis in the late 1980s and early 1990s and it was because of his guidance on ballet technique that I was able to dance on Broadway. I knew him as a master teacher but did not know about his amazing career and life. The memoir is a wonderful balance of beautiful story-telling and priceless photos. Thank you Finis for sharing your incredible story.”
—CN. April 17, 2018
“Finis’s book is a delightful read for dance fans to students! Loved the bits of his encounters with many iconic personalities of ballet, Broadway and film. Most touching are the frank descriptions of his technique challenges which over decades inspired his teaching principles. Truly a gem!”
—Bonnie O Homsey. April 17, 2018
“Finis is an inspiration and this book is magnificently written. Through his words and detailed account of his life in ballet, I felt like I was on the journey right with him. This is a MUST read for dancers, dance teachers and even non-dancers. As a dancer reimagining my love for dance in my mid-30’s, his words encouraged me to keep working hard. We must do what we love. Thank you Finis!”
—ShanC. April 17, 2018
“Finis—through decades of dancing and teaching accomplishments—has participated in much of American ballet history (one has to remember that American ballet isn’t very old). This is something I’ve always appreciated in every class with Finis. And, so I picked up his book with this same awe. Immediately I was touched by his down-to-earth tone and relatable themes—such as dreams, hopes, family, and spirituality. Oh, the ‘awe’ was still there! But so was something very relatable. It was a very special read.”
—Jadyn Pak. April 16, 2018
“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
— 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