Main page

Li cunxin

download, 78 kb.

Mao's Last Dancer Li Cunxin believes mistakes teach the most valuable lessons

One Plus One By Peta Yoshinaga Updated Sun 10 May 2015, 1:23 PM AEST

Li says honesty, dignity, integrity and a strong work ethic are vital traits.

Harold David

Artistic director of Queensland Ballet, Li Cunxin, has been known as Mao's Last Dancer since the release of his autobiography and a movie of the same name.

After an early life of poverty, he was selected against all odds to attend the prestigious dance academy run by communist leader Mao Zedong's wife, known as Madame Mao.

China which was described as a country that "you don't have to lock your door at night", and the people, especially the author were considered as a frog at the bottom of the well. Part two - Beijing - is telling about a more distant horizon when he spent about 7 years studying and make interest in ballet. That is the place he made many of his lovely friends as well as the guidance, the great quality of his training and encouragements from his teacher and from this beautiful art. What Li most regrets about this time is "we squandered a lot of precious time on propaganda. We even stoped doing ballet classes for a few days because Mao had made a new saying and we had to study it over and over, chew it, regurgitate it - it's incredible the amount time we wasted"4. Cunxin's world became larger again when, as a young adult, he was given opportunity to travel to Houston to train with that city's ballet company - Part three, The West - now he could see clearly that lies of the Chinese authorities were just that. A richer and freer world existed with infinitely greater artistic freedom. more.

It was only through resilience and a deep desire to learn that he endured China's cultural revolution and a dramatic defection to the West.

Li was one of the best-known dancers in the world.

After years of agonising training at the Beijing Dance Academy, his search for perfection in ballet was matched only by his standards for success as a human being.

But fate was kind to Mr. Cunxin: A delegation of party members selected him to try out for a career in the arts. In 1972, though he had no previous dance training, Mr. Cunxin entered the Beijing Dance Academy. It would take years of struggle to ease his homesickness and...

For Li, honesty, dignity, integrity and a strong work ethic are vital.

"Those are the character traits ... that [were] passed down from my parents," he said.

Sometimes we become so impatient to get to the destination, but we miss the pleasure that [is] inherent in the process.
Li was born into a really hapless household in 1961 in Qingdao in China which was so a communist state led by Mao. He lived in a really little town with 20 of his relations. His household struggled to remain alive, populating close to starvation daily, but because of the household ‘s love for each other and their finding to populate, they try really difficult to last each twenty-four hours. Li ‘s childhood is filled with love and fondness from his household. It was ever in Li ‘s head that he wanted to be able to make something to assist his household. He knew that concert dance would be his household ‘s best chance to get away the acrimonious poorness in his rural place in China. Sure plenty, he was chosen to go a ballet terpsichorean. Li so began his journey in going one of the best terpsichoreans in the universe. His household is ever at that place to back up him on every determination he made, giving him full support, love and encouragement.

Li Cunxin

"And even at the harshest of times in our lives, when faced with starvation, those are the times that [you] should never lose these qualities in life, you should never lose that standard in life."

Li was one of seven children born into a poor family near Qingdao city in China's Shandong province.

Li was born into a very poor family in 1961 in Qingdao in China which was then a communist country led by Mao. He lived in a very small town with twenty of his relatives. His family struggled to stay alive, living close to starvation daily, but because of the family's love for each other and their determination to live, they try very hard to survive each day. Li's childhood is filled with love and affection from his family. It was always in Li's mind that he wanted to be able to do something to help his family. He knew that ballet would be his family's best opportunity to escape the bitter poverty in his rural home in China. Sure enough, he was chosen to become a ballet dancer. Li then began his journey in becoming one of the best dancers in the world. His family is always there to support him on every decision he made, giving him full support, love and encouragement.

Despite growing up in a poor rural household in Mao Zedong's communist China, Li was selected at age 11 to train at the prestigious Beijing Dance Academy.

Apart from classical training in dance, which was torturous at times, he learned that to survive he needed resilience, determination and perseverance.

Li Cunxin, is one of the best male ballet dancers in the world. He has shown great courage, ambition and determination throughout his entire life. He excelled in the gruelling ballet training at the Beijing Dance Academy, made his way to be one of the premier dancers with the Houston Ballet for 16 years before moving on to another career as a stockbroker and today, he resides in Australia while travelling around the world as a motivational speaker.

One of his ballet teachers, Chao Xao, one day came across Li trying to perfect pirouettes.

"When you practice, enjoy the process. Enjoy what that beautiful movement is all about," Teacher Chao told him.

"Sometimes we become so impatient to get to the destination, but we miss the pleasure that [is] inherent in the process," Li said.

Of meeting Madame Mao he said: "It was like seeing ... a goddess."

Though she was widely despised she believed in the importance of culture and the arts as a means of propaganda.

Li ‘s movie, Mao ‘s Last Dancer, is an astonishing true narrative based on the extraordinary tract he had to travel through to go a celebrated terpsichorean. Li ‘s success is non merely as a terpsichorean, he succeeded in illuming for the true human ideal. The movie Mao ‘s last terpsichorean explores the battle for two freedoms: personal pick and artistic look. On the surface, this true narrative concerns the battle between the eastern and western political orientations. While some people view his picks as heroic, others see him as a treasonist to his fatherland. In my point of position, Li left his household behind in Beijing to U.S and began to non merely see the universe for the first clip, but besides found his passion in dance. Traveling even deeper, viewing audiences will see his battle for originative freedom - the ability to state, make, and dance what he feels as an creative person. This is how he has made an influence in dance. I believe that it is true ; he gives every terpsichorean mental motive and hope to accomplish a end by reminding us non to blow every individual minute of our dancing journey.

"We grew up believing Mao [Zedong] was our god and I would have died for him really," Li said.

Video 2:16 Mao's Last Dancer Li Cunxin on childhood, dancing and dreams

ABC News

Li 'hated' ballet

Surprisingly, Li hated dance initially.

"I didn't understand ballet, so definitely, to help my family was the driving force. [It was] my willingness to sacrifice the love my parents had for me," he said.

After Mao died and China began opening up under Deng Xiaoping's leadership, Li was exposed to increasing Western influences that were eye-opening.

Li's film, Mao's Last Dancer, is an amazing true story based on the extraordinary pathway he had to go through to become a famous dancer. Li's success is not just as a dancer, he succeeded in lighting for the true human ideal. The film Mao's last dancer explores the struggle for two freedoms: personal choice and artistic expression. On the surface, this true story concerns the struggle between the eastern and western ideologies. While some people view his choices as heroic, others see him as a traitor to his homeland. In my point of view, Li left his family behind in Beijing to U.S and began to not only see the world for the first time, but also found his passion in dance. Going even deeper, viewers will see his struggle for creative freedom - the ability to say, do, and dance what he feels as an artist. This is how he has made an influence in dance. I believe that it is true; he gives every dancer mental motivation and hope to achieve a goal by reminding us not to waste every single moment of our dancing journey.

"That's when we [see] in the movies, [foreigners] wear better clothes than us, they eat better food, they seemed happier," he said.

Photo Li became Queensland Ballet artistic director in 2012.

Supplied: Christian Tiger

"At first we thought that was Western propaganda — eventually when I went to America when I saw it with my own eyes, I realised they [the movies] were not propaganda.

"We [had been] brainwashed under Mao's era."

At the age of 18, Li was awarded one of the first cultural scholarships to go to America and was a soloist with the Houston Ballet.

After 7 old ages of rough preparation at the Beijing Dance Academy, Li had become a ego disciplined and a pupil with great finding. He received a aureate chance to analyze dance in America through a student exchange plan under Mao ‘s government. He was subsequently offered a contract as a soloist with the Houston Ballet and danced for the company for 16 old ages. He was regarded as one of the best terpsichoreans in the universe. In three international concert dance competitions, he won silver and a bronze decoration at three international concert dance competitions and he performed with some of the best concert dance companies in the universe.

Two years later in 1981, he defected to the West. He stayed with the Houston Ballet for 16 years.

For more than a decade Li danced on world stages unable to return to his homeland, battling draining emotions over leaving his family in China and committing what he said, were some of his biggest mistakes.

However, autobiographies do include factual detail and are not all subjective. In Mao’s Last Dancer, the author includes an appendix, which outlines the historical events mentioned in the book. These include reference map, a historical timeline of China in the 20th Century and black and white photos with captions. These endorse Li Cunxin’s life story and set it within a historical context. Related evidence for the reader that these events actually occurred, “In 1921 the Chinese Government party was founded.” (p328). This references to historical figures, such as Chairman Mao Zedong, and the use of dates provided. However one must question why the author and their purpose selected these examples.

"I was a monster ... I felt I had perhaps created more misery for my family by defecting, so I was a very unhappy person," he said.

"Also the nature of ballet is such a selfish art form ... You're so single minded [about] perfecting your art form, you work so hard to not only work with your physical imperfections but also to [become] strong mentally.

Tee 3 motion in dance which are strong and defined which is beyond ethereal with his emotional conveyance. His dances are one of the dances that are difficult to bury. I believe that his attack to dance is one of committedness and focal point. From his attitude and behavior, it can actuate us as terpsichoreans to maintain in head that we can make it every bit long as we stay determined.


He attributes his "self-centredness" as a major factor in the failure of his first marriage to dancer Elizabeth Mackey.

However, Li believes it is mistakes — and being able to admit them — that teach the most valuable lessons.

The use of first person, it interoperates non-fiction texts such as autobiographies, an unreliable source of information. The purpose of writing in this style is to give the responder a personal effect, while reflecting back on their life story. Therefore, this reiterates the fact that the autobiography is only set on the personal and selective events being conveyed by the author. By doing so, the reader is presented with bias and limited factual content explored within Mao’s Last Dancer. They persuade the reader into believing its true; it could give the reader a wrong perception of true events and places because there is nothing else to judge them from. Aspects of one-sidedness are presented to us in Mao’s Last Dancer, which suggest the narrator is unreliable.

Photo Li Cunxin takes dancers through a class session.

Supplied: Christian Tiger

Love leads Li to Australia

While dancing in London he met Australian ballerina Mary McKendry, whom he married in 1987.

They moved to Australia in 1995, where Li joined the Australian Ballet as its principal dancer.

Li Cunxin, is one of the best male concert dance terpsichoreans in the universe. He has shown great bravery, aspiration and finding throughout his full life. He excelled in the gruelling concert dance preparation at the Beijing Dance Academy, made his manner to be one of the Prime Minister terpsichoreans with the Houston Ballet for 16 old ages before traveling on to another calling as a stockbroker and today, he resides in Australia while going around the universe as a motivational talker.

The couple have three children together.

Fascinated by the capitalist world, Li made a living as a stock broker for many years, but he has now returned to his first love: ballet.

Li became artistic director of the Queensland Ballet in 2012.

The reader must question how the author remembers each detail from his past. This adds to the subjective nature of this genre. Li reflecting from his memory also shapes his emotion, full on life. Emanating from Li’s personal emotions this indicates that this is a subjective recount as well as objective, “My feelings about leaving her and going back to China became unbearable” (p289). Aspects of the story also describe how his parents were feeling before he was born through the short dramatic sentences, but is not essentially factual as he was not actually there, “She knows her family will no longer be her main source of comfort…looks back at her familiar village for the last time, she has no tears,”(xiv) and so this relies on memory and perspective once again.

When asked how he would judge his success on professional and personal levels, he answered: "Professionally is easier for people to judge."

"On a personal level, I guess I'm a bit more indifferent about letting people judge me because I'm a harsher judge myself," he laughed.

He is still passionate about China but now he reflects on the country of his birth with open eyes.

Tee 2 idea of giving up. He realised that dance is his passion and it motivated him to give his 100 % attempt in dancing. Li would wake up at 5 in the forenoon when everyone is still kiping and skip up and down the steps to construct the strength of his leg every bit good as his staying power. At dark he would pattern his bends by the candle flame. Equally much as he wanted to populate a better life, he had ne’er forgotten about his household that he left behind. Li ‘s finding has steered him onto the way of success that helped him interrupt free from his Communist fatherland.

"I think only when the Chinese people and Chinese leadership can truly be totally honest with themselves to totally evaluate what Mao did, what cultural revolution meant to China — what wrong we have done to so many intellectuals in that revolution, what damage it has done to the trust of people — then China can really move to the next stage," he said.

By all accounts a life of creativity, diligence and fulfilment has come to define Li Cunxin as he leads a new generation of dancers to a world of challenge, imagination and breadth.

Here are some quotes and principles that Li stands firm on which have led to his success in dance. "Dance is the ultimate combination of discipline and freedom. Discipline is the foundation to become totally free and creative. If you're free without a foundation then you could go off the rails." His self determination, dedication and the willingness to work hard and always behave positively to achieve his goal is his approach to success and to dance.

For the full interview with Jane Hutcheon watch One Plus One on ABC at 5.30pm Saturday, 9.30pm Sunday on ABC News24, iview, and on the One Plus One website.

Posted Sat 9 May 2015, 9:07 AM AEST.
download, 78 kb.
  • 1.
  • 9.1%
  • 2.
  • 1.4%
  • 3.
  • 2.9%
  • 4.
  • 1.4%
  • 5.
  • 3.9%
  • 6.
  • 1.6%
  • 7.
  • 8.9%
  • image 1:
  • image 2:
  • image 3:
  • image 4:
© 2018