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“Mao’s Last Dancer” to tour New Zealand

“Mao’s Last Dancer” to tour New Zealand
19 March 2014

One of the dance world’s luminaries, Li Cunxin, will tour New Zealand in April as part of the Asia New Zealand Foundation’s 20th Anniversary celebrations.

Best known for his autobiography Mao's Last Dancer, which also became a feature film in 2009, Li has had an interesting, albeit humbling, road to stardom.

While in New Zealand, Li will speak in Auckland and Christchurch to hundreds of secondary school children, and the dance and literary community. In Wellington, he will lead a private master class in classical ballet at the New Zealand School of Dance.

Born into poverty in rural China, Li was chosen at age 11 to train at Madame Mao’s Beijing Dance Academy. In 1981 he defected from China to the United States, where he had been discovered by the artistic director of the Houston Ballet. For more than a decade Li danced on world stages, unable to return home because of his defection. His career later took an interesting turn when he became a stockbroker. But he has now returned to what he loves most – ballet – and is the artistic director of the Queensland Ballet.
Asia New Zealand Foundation executive director John McKinnon says the Foundation is very pleased to have secured Li as a speaker as part of its anniversary programme of activities.

“Li is an extraordinary individual with an inspirational story to share. We are sure his story will resonate with secondary school students and others alike.

“His visit is a highlight of the Foundation’s 20th Anniversary activities. We wanted a speaker who can reach and inspire young people. We hope this event will help to raise their knowledge and awareness of Asia,” said McKinnon.

New Zealand School of Dance director Garry Truder said: “Li Cunxin is a substantial force in the international dance world. His wisdom and life experience go beyond technique and musicality to taste and artistry.”

“We are fortunate to have Li bring this rich ballet tradition to our school. Li is a wonderfully perceptive, intelligent and inspirational teacher.”

The Asia New Zealand Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan organisation dedicated to building New Zealand’s links with Asia through a range of programmes, including business, culture, education, media, research and its Leadership Network.
Event details

Auckland: Wednesday 2 April, 12pm – 1pm, Victory Convention Centre, Freemans Bay. This event is free to the public but registration is required. Visit to obtain tickets.
Wellington: Thursday 3 April, Wellington School of Dance. Private master class – by invitation only.

Christchurch: Friday 4 April, 1pm, St Margaret’s College. By invitation only.

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