Congratulations Li Cunxin - "2009 Australian Father of the Year"
‘Mao’s Last Dancer’ – Premiered at the cinemas this week - A drama based on the autobiography by Li Cunxin. At the age of 11, Li was plucked from a poor Chinese village by Madame Mao's cultural delegates and taken to Beijing to study ballet. In 1979, during a cultural exchange to Texas, he fell in love with an American woman. Two years later, he managed to defect and went on to perform as a principal dancer for the Houston Ballet and as a principal artist with the Australian Ballet.
Born in 1961 to a very poor but proud family in a village near the north-eastern Chinese city of Qingdao, Li Cunxin was busy memorising Chairman Mao's sayings when the school headmaster entered the classroom with four 'dignified-looking people' - talent scouts from the Beijing arts academy that came under the authority of Mao's much-feared wife.
They were seeking likely candidates to study, of all things, ballet - performing art they hoped would further the cultural aims of the revolution. After selecting a girl 'with big eyes, straight teeth and a pretty face,' they were about to leave when a teacher tapped one of them on the shoulder, pointed at Li and asked, 'What about that one?'
Li Cunxin was born into Mao’s communist China, and at the age of 10, he was selected to train in Madame Mao's Beijing Dance Academy. And so began Li's dance career. He was 11 when he left home to begin a harsh training regime at the Beijing Dance Academy. Li hated dancing during his first two years and pined for his family. But fear of what he would return to kept him going. At first his grades were poor, but soon, under the guidance of a special teacher, his true potential was recognised and developed. Li’s astounding determination and drive became apparent as he practised his turns at night by candlelight, and hopped up and down stairs with sandbags tied to his ankles to build his strength.
When he was 18 Li was offered a soloist contract with the Houston Ballet. After two years, Li defected to the West in a dramatic media storm which involved the then Vice President, Mr George Bush Snr. A few years later, he fell in love with another Houston Ballet dancer, Mary McKendry. They married in 1987, and in 1995 moved to Melbourne where Li became a principal dancer with the Australian Ballet. He quickly made an impression.
By now 34, an age at which many dancers have already hung up their shoes, Li Cunxin was wondering how he would continue to support his two (soon to be three) children when his dancing career ended. Learning how to compound his money was his latest fascination, so in 1997 he began studying at the Australian Securities Institute with a view to becoming a stockbroker. For his final two years with the Australian Ballet, this meant rising at 5am to start barre work, then racing to the stock exchange by 8am to study until noon. By the time he joined the rest of the company's dancers for afternoon rehearsals; he had already put in a full day's work.
The rich story of Li Cunxin’s inspirational life is recounted in the book "Mao's Last Dancer" which was published in September 2003. It quickly rose to No. 2 on the Australian Non-Fiction Best-Seller List and was recently named in Amazon.com's Break-Out Books list after only several weeks after its US release. He is now a successful stockbroker in Melbourne. Li’s amazing account of his life story is beautifully and passionately presented and will soon be documented in a soon to be released movie.
Li Cunxin – Leading Keynote Speaker – Melbourne Based
Li Cunxin is a leading international speaker and will make your audience cry, he will hold them spellbound, he will make them laugh, and he will be mobbed when he finishes speaking. Li Cunxin's inspirational story has to be heard and as his new movie proves is truly inspiring and motivating.
Platinum Speakers and Entertainers can assist with your enquiry to engage Li Cunxin for a corporate after dinner or keynote speech on his inspirational life story. Contact Platinum at www.platinumspeakers.com.au – 03 9673 7400 or email [email protected]
Platinum Speakers & Entertainers – Li Cunxin – Mao’s Last Dancer’ – Movie Review
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