I’m still trying to get a really great post from someone on how to get in shape for a summer ballet intensive – little late for Julian, who will have completed his first day at the American Ballet Theatre summer intensive by this time two weeks from now. In the meantime, however, I did get ballet great Finis Jhung to offer me a few really short tips.
Since 1972, Finis Jhung has been a mainstay of the New York dance scene. He has taught dancers of The New York City Ballet, The American Ballet Theatre, The Joffrey, Ailey, Taylor, Graham, and Cunningham Companies as well as star gypsies from Broadway, aspiring professionals, and amateur adult beginners.
While running his own studio until 1987, Finis was also founder, artistic director and choreographer for Chamber Ballet USA. Since then, in New York City, he has taught at The Broadway Dance Center, The Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, Peridance, Ballet Arts, The New Dance Group Arts Center, and Steps. Currently, Finis is working on Broadway with the boys of Billy Elliot: The Musical. He teaches the boys who are now performing the lead role of Billy as well as those who are in training as future prospects. For more information on Finis’ dance career, click here.
Although he was too busy to expand on his advice, Finis was kind enough to offer the following five tips for getting in shape for a summer ballet intensive, like the ABT six-week intensive, and direct boys (and their parents) to some of the videos he has produced. Here’s what he had to say:
Finis Jhung’s 5 Tips for boys Who Want to Get In Shape for a Summer Ballet Intensive
- Strengthen your core muscles with slow roll ups. Strengthen your torso, shoulders, and arms with push-ups.
- Improve your flexibility, turn-out, and extension with the DVD The Finis Jhung Ballet Technique: Stretch, Turn-out, & Extension.
- Learn to plié with resistance so that you will turn more securely and jump higher. Make sure you know how to get the most out of your barre exercises. Check yourself with the DVD The Finis Jhung Ballet Technique: The Power Barre.
- Practice your pirouettes and tours along with Competition Medalist Joe Gatti in the DVD The Male Ballet Dancer.
- Stand sideways to the mirror and do 32 changements without tilting the pelvis, with knees correctly aligned over the toes, and without making a sound.
I asked him how often to do these exercises and moves and how may of each to do each time, but he was unable to answer due to time constraints. So, I suggest that boys begin with how ever many they can do comfortably and work up either every day or every other day. Or, better yet, ask a dance teacher or ballet teacher for advice.
All the DVDs mentioned are available at www.finisjhung.com.
Hopefully, I will still be able to get some more information form someone else…
Julian hopes to take a class or two (or more) from Finis while we are in New York. If I can swing the cost – very questionable given all that we will be spending while in NYC, I might try to fit in a private lesson with him. Finis says he can accomplish improvement quickly with a dancer, and, according to his website he will: “Teach your muscles to remember the correct sequences of movement that will take your dancing to a place that is beyond emotion. In other words, you don’t have to ‘feel’ like doing something. When you really know how to do it, you will be able to do it. That’s what technique is. Well trained muscles will have you turning and jumping and balancing, no matter how you feel. Learn to work from the inside out. Ground yourself so you can really fly. Get into the zone!”
Sounds great to me and to Julian. Again…we’ll see how the funds go. With airline tickets, sublets, the cost of the program, and classes at Broadway Dance Center, maybe a Broadway show, etc…Whew. This will be an expensive summer. Finis might not fit into the budget.