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Mao's Last Dancer (2003)

de Cunxin Li

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1,6144411,242 (3.98)59
This is the true story of how, by the thinnest thread of a chance, one moment in time changed the course of a small boy's life in ways that are beyond imagination. One day he would dance with some of the greatest ballet companies of the world. One day he would be a friend to a President and First Lady, movie stars and the most influential people in America. One day he would become a star: Mao's last dancer, and the darling of the West. Here is Li Cunxin's own story, a beautiful, rich account of an inspirational life, told with honesty, dignity and pride.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 44 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
An interesting real life story that could have used a bit deeper insight in what Li Cunxin was feeling. It all came across as a bit flat and was hard to engage myself fully in the book. ( )
  Litrvixen | Jun 23, 2022 |
This book is so good, so inspiring.
The story follows Li Cunxin's journey from desperately poor peasant boy to the darling of the west as he is chosen from among hundreds of children to join Madame Mao's dance school and learn the artform of ballet.
Despite the subject matter, I loved this story. Cunxin is a natural born story teller. It goes along at it's own pace but it's never boring or repetitive. There wasn't anything I really disliked about this book except the sadness the circumstances evoked. Some of the stories Cunxin told are absoloutely hilarious (it'll take me a while before I can see a muffin as food!)
Anyone who is in the depths of despair should read this book. You'll feel instantly better (& you'll never look at a sweet potato the same way again) ( )
  leah152 | Jan 20, 2022 |
SPOILERS

This is the story of a Chinese man who grew up in China in 1961, during the time of Mao Zedong. He was sent to a ballet school from the age of 11, where he spent the next 7 years learning ballet. He describes how Mao Zedong had always told the chinese people that Americans were evil, they were poor, they slept on the streets and they enslaved those people of colour.

This author finally won a scholarship to dance in Texas and in 1979 off he went to Texas for 6 weeks, to study the great western ballets which he had never previously known. While he was in Texas he realised that Mao Zedong has essentially lied to the 1 bllion chinese people. Although he was required to return home, he later began a campaign to retun to the USA to stuy for 1 year. In 1980 he was successful and returned to Texas to study Ballet for 1 year.

In 1981 when it came time to return to china, he refused to go home. He was held prisoner at the Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas for several hours until he was finally released and allowed to stay in america as long as she did not wrote about his life in China. Fast forward 20 years and he decided that it was time to tell his story. He now lives in Australia. And there was a movie about his life story released around 2009. ( )
  Robloz | Sep 23, 2021 |
I enjoyed this story of the life of a young boy who becomes a world-famous dancer. This isn't great writing, but it's not bad and the story is gripping. At age 11, Li Cunxin is chosen to attend Madam Mao's dance school. He becomes an excellent dancer and defects to the US as a young man.

I wonder how typical his story is. He is able to send money to his family and return to visit them several times. His parents are even allowed to visit him in the U.S. I think his high international profile afforded him and his family some privileges that other defectors and their families would not have access to.

Worth reading. And find clips of Li dancing on line -- he really is amazing. ( )
  LynnB | Jun 15, 2021 |
I registered this book at BookCrossing.com!
http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/14214141

The story of Li Cunxin's journey from the child of poor peasants to an international ballet star is a striking one. Li grew up during Mao's Cultural Revolution, when peasants were honored - yet not really rewarded - for their hard work. The Li family lived on a commune, where they had a small house. Most of the family worked in the fields, while the father drove a truck. Just getting by was a struggle, and the schools were primitive.

But Cunxin happened to be the right age when Madame Mao's missionaries came by to select possible dance students. The representative had chosen one girl in his class when his teacher suggested Cunxin and the rep said okay. Through many trials he stayed in the running, and finally was sent away, with many others, to dance school in Beijing. Even riding on a train was immeasurably exciting for the boys who came in from the fields.

We get to follow Cunxin as he trains, struggles, tries to overcome homesickness, and finally, after several years, has an opportunity to travel to the U.S. for an internship at the Houston Ballet. The internship leads to another trip and marriage. Leaving the U.S. after being married to a woman he loves, though, is so very difficult and Li has to fight to stay, jeopardizing his relationship with his Houston Ballet mentor.

Clearly, the Cultural Revolution is a chapter in China's history that many would rather forget. But would we have this ballet dancer without it? I don't know. China is still very restrictive compared to western countries but has opened up its doors and its policies so that more is possible than with Mao.

The story is told simply yet has power, if only because the drama is understated. Worth reading for its insight into the times, into the lives of the peasants then and now. ( )
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 44 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
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This is the true story of how, by the thinnest thread of a chance, one moment in time changed the course of a small boy's life in ways that are beyond imagination. One day he would dance with some of the greatest ballet companies of the world. One day he would be a friend to a President and First Lady, movie stars and the most influential people in America. One day he would become a star: Mao's last dancer, and the darling of the West. Here is Li Cunxin's own story, a beautiful, rich account of an inspirational life, told with honesty, dignity and pride.

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