Li Cunxin AO (born January 26, 1961) is a Chinese-Australian stockbroker and former ballet dancer. He is currently the artistic director of Brisbane’s Queensland Ballet.
Li was the sixth of seven brothers born into poverty in the Li Commune near Qingdao in the People’s Republic of China’s Shandong province. Li Tingfang and Fang Ruiqing are Li Cunxin’s parents.
Li Cunxin’s Autobiography
“Mao’s Last Dancer” is Li Cunxin’s autobiography. Li Cunxin’s journey reads like a ballet plot, with twists and turns that pirouette through the realms of politics, love, and resilience.
Li’s arrival on the ballet stage was as unexpected as a grand jeté in a wheat field, having been born in a small rural village destined for farm labor.
His ballet odyssey painted a picture of homesickness and discipline, from befuddled provincial inspections to grueling years of academy training.
Communism joined his pas de deux, adding another layer of complexity to his already hectic schedule. This led to a brief stint in the United States, where he discovered the stark contrast between China’s portrayal of America’s wealth and the reality of its wealth.
The final acts were marriage, children, and a move to Australia, with Li gracefully balancing his career with managing a stock brokerage firm.
His farewell performance, which was broadcast to millions in China, brought to a close an extraordinary story that continues to dance at the heart of Li Cunxin’s legacy.
Li Cunxin Makes his Final Appearance
Li Cunxin has announced his retirement after a celebrated career as a world-class ballet dancer, choreographer, and, finally, artistic director of the Queensland Ballet.
Li’s memoir was adapted into the film Mao’s Last Dancer, which chronicled his extraordinary rise from extreme poverty in China to performing at the highest levels of ballet all over the world.
The Queensland Ballet confirmed Li’s diagnosis of a heart condition on Tuesday. The 62-year-old described the past 11 years as some of the most rewarding of his life as director of the state dance company.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday afternoon, Li said leaving was a difficult decision for him and his wife, Mary McKendry.
What happened to Li Cunxin’s parents?
Li Cunxin’s parents are no longer alive, but rare footage of them is on display at the Museum of Brisbane.
In the intricate tapestry of Li Cunxin’s life, his parents, Li Hou and Dia Yun, emerge as unsung heroes, weaving threads of resilience, sacrifice, and unwavering support.
The Museum of Brisbane unveils rare footage of these remarkable figures, capturing the essence of their toil and sacrifices and providing Li Cunxin with a poignant glimpse into the roots of his extraordinary journey.
Li Cunxin’s parents, resilient as the crops they tended to be in their modest background, etched indomitable values into his spirit. Their sweat-soaked labor in the fields became the metaphorical pliés and pirouettes that shaped Li Cunxin’s destiny.
The hardships faced by his family created the backdrop for a dance with adversity that Li Cunxin would later choreograph in his autobiography, “Mao’s Last Dancer.”
In the grand performance of life, Li Cunxin’s parents take center stage as the embodiment of the human spirit’s tenacity.
The dance of resilience, learned from the fields of his upbringing, remains a timeless testament to the enduring power of familial love and support.