The young reader edition of the international bestseller; now a major motion picture. At the age of eleven, Li Cunxin was one of the privileged few selected to . 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. Mao's Last Dancer is the autobiography of Li Cunxin. It tells his gripping tale . On pages – Li finds a foreign book under this bed. • Why did the teacher .
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MAO'S LAST DANCER van Bruce Beresford ('Driving Miss Daisy') is een . But in the case of Mao's Last Dancer, Li had written a wonderful book - beautifully -. And while Mao's Last Dancer is not a self-improvement book, Li's courage and perseverance ultimately make his story more inspiring than a dozen tomes by the . Editorial Reviews. From Publishers Weekly. This is the heartening rags-to-riches story of Li, Due to its large file size, this book may take longer to download.
Beijing 8. Feather in a Whirlwind 9. The Caged Bird That First Lonely Year The Pen My Own Voice Turning Points The Mango Change On the Way to the West The Filthy Capitalist America Good-bye, China Part Three: The West Return to the Land of Freedom Elizabeth Defection My New Life A Millet Dream Come True No More Nightmares However, he knows this sentiment is too dangerous to be spoken, and upon return to China, even though he loved every bit of America, he tones it down and recites some Communist propaganda for the report to be filed so he can return in two months time.
However, despite the lies, the government refuses to let him return to the U.
Three months later, he manages to get his visa and goes—this time for a full year dancing in the Houston Ballet. He starts a secret romance with aspiring American dancer, Elizabeth Mackey, keeping it a secret so his government doesn't find out and send him back. He is quickly promoted to soloist position and allowed five more months.
In the last month, Cunxin is reluctant to leave, so he and Elizabeth rush their marriage so that Cunxin can remain in the United States indefinitely, thus avoiding a defection which may have consequences for his family. Visiting the Chinese Consulate to announce his decision while trying to prevent the sure backlash on Stevenson, the resident Chinese diplomat forcibly detains Li in attempt to coerce his return to China; when he continues to refuse to go willingly, the Party agrees to release and allow him to stay, but revokes his citizenship and declares he can never return to the land of his birth.
Full of concern for his family, Cunxin continues to dance, but his relationship with Elizabeth ends in divorce, and he cites his youth and cultural differences as the reason. Cunxin is quickly promoted to principal dancer status, making numerous premieres and winning awards, but severely injured his back, putting him out of commission for over two months. Despite the setback, he continues dancing, and soon after, the Chinese government allowed his parents to come to America to visit him after six years of being cut off from his family.
They arrive to watch him in the Nutcracker, and sob as they reunite, and the audience gives a standing ovation.
Li meets and marries Australian ballerina Mary McKendry, and they finally go back to his old village. Cunxin meets with his old Teacher Xiao, and performs for him and his parents, but feels an inexplicable amount of guilt for the huge difference in how he lives and how the rest of the village lives, but consoles himself in thinking that he has fulfilled all his mother ever wanted for him.
They return to America and continue dancing. Sophie, Cunxin and Mary's first child, is born profoundly deaf, to their devastation. Mary gives up her career to take care of her, and Sophie has led a normal life because of it, also taking dance classes in following in her parents footsteps.
They go on to have two more children, perfectly healthy, but decide to move to Mary's home country, Australia. Their farewell performance, Romeo and Juliet, is broadcast live throughout China to five hundred million viewers.
In Australia, he keeps dancing, but also gets a job managing one of the largest stock brokerage firms in Australia. At 11 he was selected to attend Mdme Mao's Dance Academy outside Beijing in spite of having never danced and having received such a rudimentary education begun at age 10 that he could barely read and knew little other than the sayings of Chairman Mao. The conditions at the school were barely above those of his home commune, and Li experienced devastating homesickness.
But he was determined to be the "frog who escaped the well," as his father had instructed him in a Chinese folk tale.
When still a teen his life's course changed forever when he was one of two dancers sent by the government to study with the Houston ballet in a cultural exchange program for a month. The artistry, freedom of expression, and his witness to the truth about America as opposed to the Maoist propaganda he'd known that bore no resemblance to the facts affected him profoundly.
He would never be satisfied with the regimentation and restriction to his individuality again. From his return to China until the day he left it once more to return to the Houston Ballet, Li fought for freedom and won it when he defected.
Without maudlin sentimentality but true and raw emotion, Li tells of the sacrifices, privations, and discipline he willing bore to find self-fulfillment in the West even when it meant ostracization from China and contact with his family for many years. Li reveals a special kind of courage and mettle few men can summon for so long as he persisted in pursuing a life that allows him to fully live.
He writes with a certain naivete and naked honesty that makes this book a compelling read about a truly extraordinary man.
It's basically the story of a Chinese boy who lived in a really poor village during Mao Tse-Tung's dictatorship, the difficulties through which he and his family have been through and how, one day, his luck changed and he got the opportunity to have dance classes. Important aspects of the Chinese culture are strongly emphasized in this book: traditions and habits, the importance of the family's bonds, the Chinese education, their thoughts about Mao's communism and the shock between different cultures.
All of it told in an easy-to-read, and at the same time touching style. Definitely worth reading.
The most interesting thing is the first hand account of what it was like to grow up in Communist China: the lack of food, the children's attitudes towards Mao, and the Chinese value system. Li Cunxin's story is one of hardship and poverty which, through sheer effort of will and a few lucky breaks, becomes one of freedom and fame. It's told with engaging honesty as Cunxin comes to realise that everything he has been taught to believe in by the Mao regime is based on a lie.
Through it, he questions the essence of Marxism and the future of his country. But though the political context is critical to his story, it never dominates because first and foremost this is a story about one man and his ambition to rise to the top of his chosen profession.
At times it's a painful story as Cunxin endures physical and mental anquish but its balanced by the strength of affection and love given first by his parents in China and then by his second family in the ballet world.
Highly recommended. Read the book after seeing the movie, and was surprised at some of the things they changed. The movie made it seem like he never saw his family again after being taken to the ballet school in Beijing. But, not only did he see his family almost every year, but his parents were allowed to come to the US for many months at a time once Mao died and a new Open Door Policy began.
Li could not return to China for many years after that, but he finally was able to go back and take his wife Mary with him to see where he grew up.
It is amazing that people actually survived with little or no food and primitive shelter.