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Li Cunxin - A Chinese Ballet Dancer Now a International Star Despite the Communist China`s effort to Muffle him

Tuesday, 19 October 2010 - 9:57 AM SL Time

Li Cunxin (pronounced Lee Schwin Sing ) is a remarkable man borne of a remarkable story. He has published a remarkable book about his extraordinary life. In his runaway best selling autobiography, Mao` s Last Dancer, Li recounts his determination, perseverance, vision, courage and hard work, and in particular, the sacred family values and integrity that he learned in poverty-stricken China, which has driven him to become one of the best dancers in the world. He tells of how the sixth of seven sons born to peasants grew up worshipping Mao Zedong before defecting to the United States.

Li was born into bitter poverty in rural Qingdao, China. Certain years the peasants in his village even ate tree barks to survive. Despite the harsh reality of life, his childhood was full of love. The love of his parents gave him hope and courage.

One day, a delegation from Madame Mao`s Beijing Dance Academy arrived at Li`s commune school to find suitable children to study ballet and serve in Chairman Mao`s revolution. At first they passed Li without taking any notice, but just as they were walking out of his classroom, the class teacher hesitated, and suddenly tapped the last gentleman from Beijing on the shoulder and pointed. `What about that boy?`. And that boy was Li.

And so began Li`s remarkable journey. He was 11 when he left home to begin a seven-year harsh training regime from 5.30 am to 9 pm, 6 days a week at the Beijing Dance Academy. Once he found his passion, he worked hard and gave his all. He would practise his turns at night by candlelight, and hopped, one-legged, up and down stairs with heavy sandbags tied to his ankles to build his leg strength at 5 am in the mornings when others were still asleep.

With incredible determination, resilience, perseverance and vision, Li graduated as one of the best dancers China has produced. He was discovered by Ben Stevenson, one of the world`s most respected teachers, choreographer and the Artistic Director of the Houston Ballet as part of the first US cultural delegation to communist China. And became one of the first two cultural exchange students allowed to go to America to study under Mao`s regime.

In a dramatic defection, Li was subsequently locked up in the Chinese Consulate in Houston. This created a standoff between the Chinese and the American governments. Even George Bush senior, then US Vice President intervened. FBI agents surrounded the consulate in Houston, and negotiations between Chinese and US diplomats had begun. His defection was the headline story in America. Twenty-one hours later, Li walked out of the Chinese Consulate as a free man.

He then danced with the Houston Ballet for sixteen years and became one of the best dancers in the world. He guest performed around the world with some of the best ballet companies and won two silver and a bronze medal at three International Ballet Competitions. While dancing in London, he fell in love with an Australian born ballerina with a major ballet company in England, Mary McKendry. They married in 1987, and in 1995 moved to Melbourne with their two children where Li became a principal dancer with the Australian Ballet.

At age 35, Li started to plan his next career after dancing. He enrolled in accounting and financial courses. In 1997 he began his study at the Australian Securities Institute by correspondence with a view to becoming a stockbroker. For his final two years with the Australian Ballet, he rose at 5am to start ballet training, then racing to the stock exchange by 8am to work as a stockbroker until noon. By the time he joined the rest of the Australian Ballet dancers for rehearsals, he had already put in a full day`s work (Li is now a senior manager at one of the biggest stockbroking firms in Australia).

Li`s Autobiography, `Mao`s Last Dancer`, was first published in 2003 and immediately hit the top of Australia`s best sellers list. It was number 1 in the non-fiction category and won the Book of the Year Award in Australia, the Christopher Award in America and it was short-list for the National Biography Award among other prestigious literary awards. It stayed on the top 10 Bestseller List for over one and a half years and it is now over 50 reprints, it has been published and sold in over 30 countries. The featured film: Mao`s Last Dancer was first premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was Runner Up for the People`s Choice Award. It went on to win several other top international film festival awards. Mao`s Last Dancer has become one of the top 10 box office hits in the Australian film history.

His book is an unique story of determination, passion, integrity and love. His journey filled with dreams shattered and revitalized. It is an empowering tale with so many lessons. This combined with the moving supporting ballet sequences and still photographs create an experience to be cherished.

As a motivational and inspirational speaker, Li`s unique real life story works so effectively with corporations and conferences` various themes and objectives. It is a story that can touch people deep in their hearts. He is a highly sought-after international motivational speaker.

Li Cunxin - Maos Last Dancer

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LK Information  19 Oct 2010 03:08:46 GMT  Report for Abuse  

Mao s Last Dancer opened in select US cities on Friday, August 20th 2010. For a comprehensive list of where the film will be playing, visit, where you can also watch the trailer, see clips & photos from the film, check out links to reviews & interviews, peruse an interactive timeline and much more. There s also a Facebook profile for the US release at Become a follower and get up-to-the-minute news about advance screenings, when the film will be opening in your city, press appearances by the talent, contests, and all sorts of other surprises.


The movie, Mao's Last Dancer, was first premiered at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival between September 10th and 14th of 2009 as a Special Presentation film, it was Runner Up for the highly coveted People's Choice Award amongst 312 international films entered there. It was then followed with four gala premiers in Australia to benefit the Australian Ballet and the Bionic Ear Institute, which are the two non-profit organizations that Li supports and is involved with. The premiers were very successful and raised some valuable funds for the Australian Ballet and the Bionic Ear Institute. The film is now one of the top 10 box office hits in the Australian film history. Beside the Toronto award, the film has won the following film awards:

SAN PAULO FILM FESTIVAL Winner, Audience Award
PROVINCETOWN Winner, Audience Award
SEATTLE FILM FESTIVAL Runner Up for Best Film Golden Space Needle Award

Li went to New Zealand, Japan and the US for the film promotional tours. He will be going to some other countries during the course of the year.

We would like to share with you that Li has watched the film a few times now, and he thought that it s a very good film. Li is very happy with how it portrayed his life. Bruce Beresford has done wonders bringing his story to the screen. The entire cast of actors and dancers are wonderful. And Li also liked the music very much.

Another exciting development, Li has written three new chapters for the film tie-in edition of the book. He is quite excited with this new edition as the new materials will bring the readers up-to-date on the important people in his life, and the story of how the film came about.
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