Browsable inspiration for dancers of any age or physical ability.

BALLET FOR LIFE

A PICTORIAL MEMOIR

Ballet master Jhung (The Finis Jhung Ballet Technique, 2014) leaps into the spotlight with a memoir about his life and enduring career.

The Honolulu-born author says he knew that he was going to be a dancer in 1946, when he was only 9 years old. His father was Korean-American, and his mother had Scottish, English, and Korean roots; after World War II, they divorced, and Jhung’s mother struggled financially to raise him and his two brothers. Even so, the author was later able to attend the University of Utah, where he learned ballet from William F. Christensen, a founder of the San Francisco Ballet. A college friend connected Jhung with composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist/librettist Oscar Hammerstein II, and in 1960, he danced in their Broadway musical Flower Drum Song. His career took him to the San Francisco Ballet and both the Robert Joffrey Ballet and the Harkness Ballet in New York City. However, he gave it all up in 1969 to devote his life to Buddhism. By 1972, though, he’d returned to his passion and become a dance teacher. Jhung now teaches all ages and skill levels. This is an expansive memoir with many striking black-and-white photos. Jhung’s prose feels familial, as if one is sitting with him as he points to photos and remembers stories. For example, next to an image of himself dancing as a child, he writes, “If you look through the doorway behind me, you can see a wrapped gift on the bed. Could we be celebrating my mom’s wedding?” It’s a down-to-earth voice—at one point, he describes ballet as “a ‘bitchy’ art”—and some of his stories have compellingly eccentric characters, such as a Danish dancer named Lone Isaksen. Other memories, such as the death of his first child, are sharply poignant. The final chapters include a daily log of Jhung’s recovery from hip surgery and gushing student recommendations that read like ads for his classes. However, other student anecdotes are more memorable; one 67-year-old woman, told by her physical therapist that she needed to use a walker, took dance lessons instead.

Browsable inspiration for dancers of any age or physical ability.

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9913898-0-3

Page Count: 500

Publisher: Ballet Dynamics, Inc.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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