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This is the heartening rags-to-riches story of Li, who achieved prominence on the international ballet stage. Born in 1961, just before the Cultural Revolution, Li was raised in extreme rural poverty and witnessed Communist brutality, yet he imbibed a reverence for Mao and his programs. In a twist of fate worthy of a fairy tale (or a ballet), Li, at age 11, was selected by delegates from Madame Mao's arts programs to join the Beijing Dance Academy. In 1979, through the largesse of choreographer and artistic director Ben Stevenson, he was selected to spend a summer with the Houston Balletthe first official exchange of artists between China and America since 1949. Li's visit, with its taste of freedom, made an enormous impression on his perceptions of both ballet and of politics, and once back in China, Li lobbied persistently and shrewdly to be allowed to return to America. Miraculously, he prevailed in getting permission for a one-year return. In an April 1981 spectacle that received national media attention, Li defected in a showdown at the Chinese consulate in Houston. He married fellow dancer Mary McKendry and gained international renown as a principal dancer with the Houston Ballet and later with the Australian Ballet; eventually, he retired from dance to work in finance. Despite Li's tendency toward the cloying and sentimental, his story will appeal to an audience beyond Sinophiles and ballet aficionadosit provides a fascinating glimpse of the history of Chinese-U.S. relations and the dissolution of the Communist ideal in the life of one fortunate individual. 8 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW.
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'An inspiring true story of courage and determination' - Adeline Yen Mah, author of 'Falling Leaves' 'His vivid descriptions of life at home, surviving on family love and dried yams, and of the harsh regime, make riveting reading' Guardian 'Mao's Last Dancer is a modern fairy-tale. Li Cunxin's story is a breathtaking indictment of brute Communism, told with great honesty' - Kate Adie 'Appalling, brave and funny ... you cannot do better than to read this book' Mail on Sunday --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
I was captivated by this book. liked the characters and felt I learned a lot about the control put upon Chinese people by the regime. Read morePublished on May 30 2013 by firstname.lastname@example.org
This was a most interesting story of life under a Communist system. It will make you feel like you are there with the author growing up under a very different political system... Read morePublished on April 13 2013 by Ken and Judy Robertson
I was very happy to be able to get this book that I had heard so much about. It arrived in good time and in good shape.Published on Feb. 4 2012 by Jan Church
I received a child's edition of this book. There was no prior indication that it was not the full adult version.Published on Feb. 28 2011 by Invicta
Whilst this wasn't a great work of literature, the story was tender and embracing. I couldn't put it down and even on closing the book I was still left with the emotion of Li's... Read morePublished on July 16 2004
It begins in 1961 .. not back in the 20's or 30's, when it would have been easier to believe such poverty was possible. Read morePublished on July 5 2004
This book is wonderfully written, and once you start it, you will not be able to put it down. I know many Chinese people who grew up in China during Mao's Cultural Revolution and... Read morePublished on June 4 2004
Mao's Last Dancer is the best book I've read in a while. It's a book that grabs you and pulls you into thier celebrations, and their traditions. Read morePublished on May 28 2004 by Hannah B. Lee