Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mao's Last Dancer

For some months, I have been waiting for Mao's Last Dancer to come out on dvd. Last night I had the pleasure of watching it. It is based on the autobiography of Li Cunxin who, at age eleven, was chosen from his poor Chinese village, to attend the Beijing Academy, where he became a ballet dancer.

Chosen in 1979 to make a cultural exchange, he arrived as a young man in Texas, where he became the principal dancer for the Houston Ballet. He fell in love with a dancer there, married, asked to stay (which was at first refused) and defected to the USA. The film has good acting, FANTASTIC dancing, a good story, and is interspersed with flashbacks to China. The film ends on a high note, when the dancer is allowed to return to China to visit his parents. For anyone who loves dancing, as well as getting a glimpse into lives in other parts of the globe, this is a rich feast of a film.

Li Cunxin picked Chi Cao to depict him - Chi is the son of Li's two former teachers in Beijing.

Li now lives in Australia with his wife and children, and is a principal artist of the Australian Ballet.

This is the best movie I have seen since My Name is Khan.


In My Name is Khan, a Muslim man with Asperger's syndrome, from Mumbai,  marries a Hindu woman in San Francisco. Touched by tragedy after 9/11, he is detained at an airport, suspected as a terrorist, simply because of his ethnicity.

The rest of the film depicts his journey around the United States in his quest to catch up with the American President and tell him "I am not a terrorist." I cried through the last half of this movie. The man's heart is so true and straight-forward, and his message is a powerful one.

I wish every high school student in North America could watch this movie.


  1. Unklike you, Sherry, I usually couldn't care less what goes on in other parts of the world, but if you liked Mao's last Dancer, I think you would like a book I read a year or two ago by Anchee Min, called "Red Azalea." It is nion0-fiction, and is about a young woman who is chosen from a work farm to become an actress in state films. I chose it because she has a dangerous affair with another woman on the work farm, but I ended up loving the whole thing and learning a lot about a world I knew pretty much nothing about. In time, she too defects. I know you would love it.

  2. Unlike, that should be. Can't get used to this keypad.


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