A fresh, friendly guide that demystifies classical ballet while providing clear guidance on how to be a better dancer.


The Finis Jhung Ballet Technique


Discover—or rediscover—the essentials of good ballet technique in this comprehensive, accessible book.

Ballet has a reputation as a beautiful but intimidating art form, and those who lack natural flexibility or a typical dancer’s body may feel unwelcome in a ballet studio. In his first book, former professional dancer and longtime instructor Jhung dispels that notion, reminding students and teachers of the pure joy that dance can bring while offering clear guidance on how to move with grace and confidence—and avoid injury. Jhung came to ballet relatively late in life as a college student, but he enjoyed a long and successful career, first with the San Francisco Ballet, Joffrey Ballet and other companies and now as a teacher at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, Broadway Dance Center, and other schools. He talks candidly about his own struggles with demanding classical technique and explains how he eventually learned to work with his body, rather than against it, when dancing. Jhung doesn’t demand perfect turnout or high battements from his students; instead, he emphasizes proper posture and alignment, which he convincingly argues are the real foundation of good dance. With that in mind, he moves through a series of exercises, from simple stretches and basic barre work to more advanced center work involving turns and jumps. Lessons begin with an outline of the specific movements and are followed by a detailed analysis of each exercise so that readers will understand why it’s essential to perfect simple steps before moving on to more complex choreography. These initial lessons are clearly explained and are easy to follow even for those with no prior ballet training. The more advanced lessons require a familiarity with common ballet steps—anyone who doesn’t know a pirouette from a pas de chat will be lost. The instructions gradually become more difficult to follow as well, and those who progress to this stage will likely benefit from purchasing the associated demonstration DVDs. Throughout, Jhung maintains his encouraging, supportive tone while also discouraging the sloppiness and overreach that lead to strained, inelegant movement—valuable lessons for beginners and advanced students alike.

A fresh, friendly guide that demystifies classical ballet while providing clear guidance on how to be a better dancer.

Pub Date: June 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-1457530180

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Dog Ear

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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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 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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