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.