NEW YORK - Renowned ballet instructor Finis Jhung is used to teaching people how to dance.
For years, he’s been doing it at Ailey Extension in Hell’s Kitchen, where he teaches adults and seniors.
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But when the Coronavirus struck, his in-person classes came to halt, so he decided to digitize his moves and teach classes live on Facebook and Instagram.
"When we found out, you know, you had to stay indoors, everybody became a prisoner,” said Jhung. “So I wanted to think of what I can do to help them to cheer up, to keep them in shape, physically and mentally.”
Jhung is not new to teaching on camera; he’s done many instructional videos over the years. But he had never taught live on a social networking platform.
With the help of his videographer son, he quickly set up a feed in his Upper West Side apartment and began doing six classes a week, all for free, though donations are welcome.
“The reason we’re doing it is so that life can continue for them,” Jhung said. “It’s part of their routine.”
Jhung told us many of his students are logging on, along with people he’s never met, from all over the world.
During each online class, Jhung stands at a bar.
For some participants, that’s not possible, so they’ve had to improvise. Judy Levine, who started taking Jhung’s classes four years ago, balances on her kitchen counter.
“They’ve been a complete lifesaver,” said Levine, referring to his classes. “They distract me from work. They bring me back to my body. And they make me feel like a full human being again”
Another student told us she’s still trying to work out the logistics.
“It’s nice to see Finis,” said Sharon Sutton. “It’s very different. It’s different when you’re in the room and you have the appropriate equipment.”
Jhung told us the classes are also helping him - by allowing him to find purpose at a time when so much is on hold.
“I’m a Buddhist,” said Jhung. “We have to help other people. If I don’t help anybody, nothing is happening.”