Mao's Last Dancer

Mao's Last Dancer Cover

Mao's Last Dancer

By Li Cunxin; Cunxin Li

Berkley Books, Paperback, 9780425201336, 480pp.

Publication Date: March 1, 2005

The extraordinary memoir of a peasant boy raised in rural Maoist China who was plucked from his village to study ballet and went on to become one of the greatest dancers of his generation.
From a desperately poor village in northeast China, at age eleven, Li Cunxin was chosen by Madame Mao's cultural delegates to be taken from his rural home and brought to Beijing, where he would study ballet. In 1979, the young dancer arrived in Texas as part of a cultural exchange, only to fall in love with America-and with an American woman. Two years later, through a series of events worthy of the most exciting cloak-and-dagger fiction, he defected to the United States, where he quickly became known as one of the greatest ballet dancers in the world. This is his story, told in his own inimitable voice.

About the Author
Li Cunxin (pronounced Lee Schwin Sing ) was born in 1961, in the New Village, Li Commune, near the city of Qingdao on the coast of north-east China. The sixth of seven sons in a poor rural family, Li's peasant life in Chairman Mao's communist China changed dramatically when, at the age of eleven, he was chosen by Madame Mao's cultural advisers to become a student at the Beijing Dance Academy. Li went on to become one of the best male dancers in the world. Li's autobiography, Mao's Last Dancer has been published in over twenty countries. A children's version of the book was released in 2005 and a feature-length film was released in 2009. He is now a senior manager in a major stockbroking firm and lives in Melbourne, Australia, with his wife Mary and their three children, Sophie, Tom and Bridie.

Cunxin was born in a village near the city of Qingdao in northern China. at eighteen, he was selected to perform with the Houston Ballet, leading to his dramatic defection to the United States. He has performed as principal dancer with the Houston Ballet and as a principal artist with the Australian Ballet.