Mao's Last Dancer

By Li Cunxin
Walker & Company, Hardcover, 9780802797797, 290pp.

Publication Date: July 22, 2008

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Description

At the age of eleven, Li Cunxin was one of the privileged few selected to serve in Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution by studying at the Beijing Dance Academy. Having known bitter poverty in his rural China home, ballet would be his family’s best chance for a better future.  From one hardship to another, Cunxin demonstrated perseverance and an appetite for success that led him to be chosen as one of the first two people to leave Mao’s China and go to American to dance on a special cultural exchange. But life in the U.S. was nothing like his communist indoctrination had led him to believe. Ultimately, he defected to the west in a dramatic media storm, and went on to dance with the Houston Ballet for sixteen years.

This inspiring story of passion, resilience, and a family’s love captures the harsh reality of life in Mao’s communist China and the exciting world of professional dance. This compelling memoir includes photos documenting Li’s extraordinary life.




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.
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