Success never comes easily. Here is the touching story of Li Cunxin, Mao’s Last Dancer, presented by the BBC…
They put us through this really vigorous, sometimes cruel audition process where they tested your flexibility, measured your proportions and tested your intelligence to see if you were a fast learner.
They checked back through three generations of your family to make sure you fell into the right class category. In Mao’s political madness, he won power by relying on three classes: peasants, factory workers, the Red Army soldiers. If you fell into these classes, you could enjoy better privileges than the classes considered enemies.
Our days were brutal. We started at 05:30 and went to sleep at 21:00. We trained six days a week and the training was absolutely mad. It required tremendous tenacity and discipline.
The incredible thing was I wasn’t a good student. I was terrible at the beginning. I hated ballet with a passion. The whole time I was wondering what I was doing when my family was starving. I didn’t see how I could possibly help my family doing ballet.
Read the entire article here…
Li Cunxin’s journey is simply remarkable. He was born into utter poverty in Mao’s communist China. At a very young age he was selected to train in Madame Mao’s Beijing Dance Academy. The 7 years of harsh training regime at the Beijing Dance Academy taught him discipline, resilience, determination and perseverance. Li’s astounding drive and relentless hard work made him one of the best dancers in the world.
Li then made a successful career transition from ballet to finance. He is a senior manager at one of the largest stockbroking firms in Australia.
The inspirational story of Li’s life is recounted in his memoir Mao’s Last Dancer, which quickly rose to No. 1 on the Australian Non-Fiction Best-Seller List, won the Book of the Year Award in Australia and received the Christopher Award for Literature in the USA. It went on to become an international bestseller.