Maos Last Dancer Essay Quotes From Lord

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Essay Review for Mao's Last Dancer

rebrox's version from 2012-05-29 08:21


Each quote is under a THEME you can discuss.
Under each quote are the TECHNEQUES used in the quote.
Below that is the CONTEXT from which the quote comes


"I rarely saw a smile from my niang but when i did my heart would bloom like a lotus flower"
This uses IMAGERY and a SIMILE
This is from when Li is in his village, "Niang" is the chinese word for "mother"


"To the two special women in my life - my mother and my wife"
This is the dedication of the book


"Seven pairs of hungry eyes would look at our parents begging for more"
this is when the poor family with seven boys is eating a rare meal with the tiniest amount of meat and vegetables


"You're a good boy. You shouldn't be punished for this"
This uses EMPHATIC SENTENCES (short)
This is said by Li's Na-na (Grandmother) after he broke all of his mothers plates as he tried to help


"I was determined to be chosen so i kept smiling and replied, 'No, it doesn't hurt,' as they lifted my leg higher and higher"
This is when he is in the selection process for Madame Mao's Dance Academy


"I can't let my brothers down. I am carrying their dreams as well as my own"
This uses a METAPHOR


"The quilt was like morphine"
This uses a SIMILE
this is on one of his first nights at the dance academy and he is home sick, all he has is a quilt his mother made him.


" 'How do you know what it's like to be loved by a foreigner?' I snapped back"
This is when Li is in the Chinese consulate after being married and fighting to stay in America


"There is nothing back there, only your family's love to propel you forwards"


"I practiced on the side or behind the first group, even when it wasn't my turn..."
This is from Li's days at the academy after he got over his home sickness and became determined to succeed


"...had left a shallow indentation in the studio floor where I had endlessly, repeatedly turned"
This is also from Li's days at the academy

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Mao's Last Dancer Li Cunxin believes mistakes teach the most valuable lessons

Updated May 10, 2015 13:23:27

Artistic director of Queensland Ballet, Li Cunxin, has been known as Mao's Last Dancer since the release of his autobiography and a movie of the same name.

After an early life of poverty, he was selected against all odds to attend the prestigious dance academy run by communist leader Mao Zedong's wife, known as Madame Mao.

It was only through resilience and a deep desire to learn that he endured China's cultural revolution and a dramatic defection to the West.

Li was one of the best-known dancers in the world.

After years of agonising training at the Beijing Dance Academy, his search for perfection in ballet was matched only by his standards for success as a human being.

For Li, honesty, dignity, integrity and a strong work ethic are vital.

"Those are the character traits ... that [were] passed down from my parents," he said.

Sometimes we become so impatient to get to the destination, but we miss the pleasure that [is] inherent in the process.

Li Cunxin

"And even at the harshest of times in our lives, when faced with starvation, those are the times that [you] should never lose these qualities in life, you should never lose that standard in life."

Li was one of seven children born into a poor family near Qingdao city in China's Shandong province.

Despite growing up in a poor rural household in Mao Zedong's communist China, Li was selected at age 11 to train at the prestigious Beijing Dance Academy.

Apart from classical training in dance, which was torturous at times, he learned that to survive he needed resilience, determination and perseverance.

One of his ballet teachers, Chao Xao, one day came across Li trying to perfect pirouettes.

"When you practice, enjoy the process. Enjoy what that beautiful movement is all about," Teacher Chao told him.

"Sometimes we become so impatient to get to the destination, but we miss the pleasure that [is] inherent in the process," Li said.

Of meeting Madame Mao he said: "It was like seeing ... a goddess."

Though she was widely despised she believed in the importance of culture and the arts as a means of propaganda.

"We grew up believing Mao [Zedong] was our god and I would have died for him really," Li said.

Li 'hated' ballet

Surprisingly, Li hated dance initially.

"I didn't understand ballet, so definitely, to help my family was the driving force. [It was] my willingness to sacrifice the love my parents had for me," he said.

After Mao died and China began opening up under Deng Xiaoping's leadership, Li was exposed to increasing Western influences that were eye-opening.

"That's when we [see] in the movies, [foreigners] wear better clothes than us, they eat better food, they seemed happier," he said.

"At first we thought that was Western propaganda — eventually when I went to America when I saw it with my own eyes, I realised they [the movies] were not propaganda.

"We [had been] brainwashed under Mao's era."

At the age of 18, Li was awarded one of the first cultural scholarships to go to America and was a soloist with the Houston Ballet.

Two years later in 1981, he defected to the West. He stayed with the Houston Ballet for 16 years.

For more than a decade Li danced on world stages unable to return to his homeland, battling draining emotions over leaving his family in China and committing what he said, were some of his biggest mistakes.

"I was a monster ... I felt I had perhaps created more misery for my family by defecting, so I was a very unhappy person," he said.

"Also the nature of ballet is such a selfish art form ... You're so single minded [about] perfecting your art form, you work so hard to not only work with your physical imperfections but also to [become] strong mentally."

He attributes his "self-centredness" as a major factor in the failure of his first marriage to dancer Elizabeth Mackey.

However, Li believes it is mistakes — and being able to admit them — that teach the most valuable lessons.

Love leads Li to Australia

While dancing in London he met Australian ballerina Mary McKendry, whom he married in 1987.

They moved to Australia in 1995, where Li joined the Australian Ballet as its principal dancer. The couple have three children together.

Fascinated by the capitalist world, Li made a living as a stock broker for many years, but he has now returned to his first love: ballet.

Li became artistic director of the Queensland Ballet in 2012.

When asked how he would judge his success on professional and personal levels, he answered: "Professionally is easier for people to judge."

"On a personal level, I guess I'm a bit more indifferent about letting people judge me because I'm a harsher judge myself," he laughed.

He is still passionate about China but now he reflects on the country of his birth with open eyes.

"I think only when the Chinese people and Chinese leadership can truly be totally honest with themselves to totally evaluate what Mao did, what cultural revolution meant to China — what wrong we have done to so many intellectuals in that revolution, what damage it has done to the trust of people — then China can really move to the next stage," he said.

By all accounts a life of creativity, diligence and fulfilment has come to define Li Cunxin as he leads a new generation of dancers to a world of challenge, imagination and breadth.

For the full interview with Jane Hutcheon watch One Plus One on ABC at 5.30pm Saturday, 9.30pm Sunday on ABC News24, iview, and on the One Plus One website.

Topics:arts-and-entertainment, dance, human-interest, people, australia

First posted May 09, 2015 09:07:43

Categories: 1

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