Mao's Last Dancer

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Mao's Last Dancer

Format:  CD/Spoken Word,

0 pages

Publisher: Brilliance Audio

Publish Date: Apr 2012

ISBN-13: 9781743109441

ISBN-10: 174310944X

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The following content was provided by the publisher.


Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publish Date: Apr 2012
ISBN-13: 9781743109441
ISBN-10: 174310944X
Format: CD/Spoken Word
Number of Pages: 0
Shipping Weight (in pounds): 0.2
Product in Inches (L x W x H): 5.75 x 7.5 x 0.5

About the author

Biography of Cunxin, Li

Li Cunxin was born into poverty in the Shandong province of People's Republic of China. At the age of eleven, he was selected by Madame Mao's cultural advisers to attend the Beijing Dance Academy, where students endured 16-hour days of training. He was one of the first students from the Beijing Dance Academy to go to the United States. In the 1970's, he joined Ben Stevenson's Houston Ballet company as an exchange student.

He also began a relationship with an aspiring American dancer, Elizabeth Mackey. They quickly got married so that Li could remain in the United States and avoid deportation. In the end, his Chinese citizenship was revoked. In 1995 he moved to Melbourne to join the Australian Ballet. In 1987 he married again to Australian dancer Mary McKendry. They have three children together. In 2003 Li published his autobiography, Mao's Last Dancer. The book has become a feature film with the same title. It will be released in 2010.


Review by Library Journal (2004-10-01)

Cunxin, before the age of 40, had an amazing life: he grew up in a Chinese commune near the Northeastern city of Qingdao; at age 11, he was chosen by Madame Mao's cultural delegates to leave home and learn ballet, but his chances of being selected were one in a billion! His life in the very poor but loving commune, his time at the Beijing Dance Academy, and, finally, his defection to the West in 1981 are presented in bittersweet detail.

The author was a kind and warm family member and friend who realized his fortune and remembered his past. Few stories of immigration capture the sorrows and joys as well. It must be noted that this is also a lesson of what it takes to become a world-class ballet dancer. Paul English enhances the beautiful tale with his wise and sensitive presentation; Cunxin's excruciating sorrow and exhilarating joy are equally well rendered. A necessary purchase for large public and academic libraries and all those that serve immigrant communities.

-Susan G. Baird, Chicago

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Library Journal (2010-10-01)

Li escaped a life of rural poverty in China when he was chosen for Madame Mao's ballet academy. On a cultural exchange program with the Houston Ballet, he fell in love with America and defected. Award-winning narrator John Lee skillfully mines the drama and emotion in this rags-to-riches memoir (now a movie) with accents, pacing, and tone that change as Li grows and matures.

Review by Library Journal (2004-02-15)

The life of a poverty-stricken 11-year-old Chinese boy was changed forever when he was selected to attend the dance academy of Madame Mao in Beijing. One of a few youngsters chosen, based upon a suitable physique, he did not even know the meaning of the word ballet. Yet a decade later, Li Cunxin (as former principal dancer of the Houston Ballet and now a stockbroker in Melbourne) would begin his rise to international fame as a ballet star.

Li endured seven years of often harsh training as well as academics grounded in Chairman Mao's Communist philosophy, gradually adapting to the regimen and setting the goal of becoming the best dancer possible. He is an expert storyteller, and his memoir-which includes his struggles to perfect his art in the tense political framework, the complex events surrounding his defection, and the heartbreaks and joys of his professional and personal lives-makes for fascinating reading.

The portions dealing with his childhood and loving family in Quingdao are especially poignant, and the work as a whole unfolds with honesty, humor, and a quiet dignity. This book has wide appeal, for it concerns not only a dancer's coming of age in a turbulent time but also individual strength, self-discovery, and the triumph of the human spirit. For circulating libraries.

-Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, NJ

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book description

This is the true story of how, by the thinnest thread of a chance, one moment in time changed the course of a small boy's life in ways that are beyond imagination. One day he would dance with some of the greatest ballet companies of the world. One day he would be a friend to a President and First Lady, movie stars and the most influential people in America. One day he would become a star: Mao's last dancer, and the darling of the West. Here is Li Cunxin's own story, a beautiful, rich account of an inspirational life, told with honesty, dignity and pride.

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