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Li Cunxin (born January 26, 1961) is a Chinese-Australian former ballet dancer and current stockbroker.

Early life

Li was born into a poor family in Li Commune near the city of Qingdaomarker in the Shandongmarker province of People's Republic of Chinamarker. At the age of eleven, he was selected by Madame Mao's cultural advisers to attend The Beijing Dance Academy, where students endured arduous 16-hour training days.

He was one of the first two students of the Beijing Dance Academy to go to America.

International incident

In the 1970s he joined Ben Stevenson's Houston Ballet company as an exchange student. While there he began to question the Chinese Communist Party dictates on which he had been raised, and began a relationship with an aspiring American dancer, Elizabeth Mackey. They rushed their marriage so that Li could remain in the United States while avoiding defection - Li wanted to be able to return to China to visit his family - but the Party detained him at its Houston Consulate. This caused a 21-hour international incident at the Consulate-General of the People's Republic of China in Houston, when the Federal Bureau of Investigationmarker surrounded the consulate while American and PRC diplomats debated the issue. Li was eventually allowed to stay, but his citizenship was revoked - he had effectively defected. Cut off from his family, Li continued to dance, but his marriage with Elizabeth failed under the strain of circumstances.

Career

Li went on to become one of the world's best male ballet dancers, dancing with the Houston Ballet for 16 years. Li moved to Melbournemarker in 1995, joining the Australian Ballet as a Principal Artist.

Personal life

Li Cunxin married the Australian dancer Mary McKendry in 1987. They have three children (Sophie, Thomas and Bridie).

Currently Li works as a senior manager for a large stockbroking firm in Melbourne and is also a popular motivational speaker. He was named the 2009 Australian Father of the Year.

Mao's Last Dancer

In 2003 Li published his autobiography, Mao's Last Dancer. It has received numerous accolades, including the Australian "Book of the Year" award. In 2008, the children's version of this book, Mao's Last Dancer: The Peasant Prince (illustrated by Anne Spudvilas), won the Australian Publishers Association's Book of the Year for Younger Children and the Queensland Premier's Literary Awards Children's Book Award.

Mao's Last Dancer was adapted into a 2009 feature film of the same name by director Bruce Beresford and writer Jan Sardi. It had its debut screening at the Toronto International Film Festivalmarker on 13 September 2009 and had premiere screenings in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane. These premiere screenings allowed guests to meet the stars of the film, and all money raised was donated to the Australian Ballet and the Bionic Ear Institute. The film was released into cinemas on 1 October, 2009.

External links



Notes

  1. Taylor, Christie. " 'Mao's last dancer' tells his story." The Christian Science Monitor. May 14, 2004. Retrieved on January 30, 2009.
  2. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/08/28/2669699.htm
  3. "Brooks wins Book of the Year award", The Sydney Morning Herald, 2008-06-15
  4. Official Site of Li Cunxin, http://www.licunxin.com/film.htm, Accessed 25th September 2009
  5. Mao's Last Dancer at IMBD


References




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