In 1961, three years of Mao's Great Leap Forward--along with three years of poor harvests--had left rural China suffering terribly from disease and deprivation. Li Cunxin, his parents' sixth son, lived in a small house with twenty of his relatives and, along with the rest of his family, subsisted for years on the verge of starvation. But when he was eleven years old, Madame Mao decided to revive the Peking Dance Academy, and sent her men into the countryside searching for children to attend.
Chosen on the basis of his physique alone, Li Cunxin was taken from his family and sent to the city for rigorous training. What follows is the story of how a small, terrified, lonely boy became one of the greatest ballet dancers in the world. One part Falling Leaves, one part Billy Eliot, Mao's Last Dancer is an unforgettable memoir of hope and courage.
My parents, as newlyweds, lived with my father's six brothers, their wives, his two sisters and their children, a total of over twenty people crammed into a six-room house. My mother was the youngest daughter-in-law, so her status in the Li family was the lowest. Family hierarchy had to be respected: she would work hard to prove her worth.
Often my mother would not see my father until late in the evenings, because he worked at two jobs, either away in the fields or carting building materials, all day long. Then the family would sit for dinner under the candlelight (there was no electricity in the village then), with men eating at one table, women and children eating at others. My parents hardly set eyes on each other during that first year of marriage. Sometimes, in the dim candlelight, my mother would even mistake one of her brothers-in-law for her own husband.
The women of the house would sew, wash, clean and cook. My mother ...
A wonderful book; a bit sentimental in places but it's Li's story and he's free to tell it how he likes, and he tells it well. If you're a ballet aficionado you'll want to read every page, otherwise you'll probably want to skip over a few of the more detailed descriptions of ballet competitions - which are few in number anyway.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (722 words).
At the age of 34 Li realized his career as a
dancer would soon be over, so he began to study at
the Australian Securities Institute (in between rehearsals and
performances) qualifying as a stockbroker two years later. Today he
lives in Melbourne, Australia with his wife
and three children and works as a stockbroker. He also finds
time to work with many charities, including
He is an avid supporter of The Cochlear Research Institute in Australia which conducts ongoing research and provides support to those who cannot afford the implant. The cause is close to his ...
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