Read ePUB Mao's Last Dancer –

This is the heartening rags to riches story of Li, who achieved prominence on the international ballet stage Born in , just before the Cultural Revolution, Li was raised in extreme rural poverty and witnessed Communist brutality, yet he imbibed a reverence for Mao and his programs In a twist of fate worthy of a fairy tale or a ballet , Li, at age , was selected by delegates from Madame Mao s arts programs to join the Beijing Dance Academy In , through the largesse of choreographer and artistic director Ben Stevenson, he was selected to spend a summer with the Houston Balletthe first official exchange of artists between China and America sinceLi s visit, with its taste of freedom, made an enormous impression on his perceptions of both ballet and of politics, and once back in China, Li lobbied persistently and shrewdly to be allowed to return to America Miraculously, he prevailed in getting permission for a one year return In an Aprilspectacle that received national media attention, Li defected in a showdown at the Chinese consulate in Houston He married fellow dancer Mary McKendry and gained international renown as a principal dancer with the Houston Ballet and later with the Australian Ballet eventually, he retired from dance to work in finance Despite Li s tendency toward the cloying and sentimental, his story will appeal to an audience beyond Sinophiles and ballet aficionadosit provides a fascinating glimpse of the history of Chinese US relations and the dissolution of the Communist ideal in the life of one fortunate individualpages of bw photos not seen by PWCopyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc All rights reservedGrade In , just three years after Mao s disastrous Great Leap Forward, Li Cunxin was born, the sixth son in a family of Chinese peasants who eked out a meager existence on a rural commune During his childhood he endured unimaginable poverty and hardships and witnessed the shooting ofcounter revolutionaries by Mao s Red Guards When chosen to audition for Madame Mao s Beijing Ballet Academy at age , ballet became his chance for a good job and enough food for life Many years of training, two US trips, one premature marriage, and a defection later, Li joined the Houston Ballet as a principal dancer, paving his way to international fame Although told in a rather bland stylemostly in basic declarative sentencesthe information about the country at this time and the danger and angst that accompanied the dancer s decision to defect will be of interest to teens This Young Reader s Edition of the adult book Putnam,gives a much fuller portrait than the author s picture book version, Dancing to Freedom Walker,The black and white photos, the abbreviated history, and time line will help students place Li s life story into historical context With the current interest in all things Chinese, and with the immigration debate in full swing, this is a good choice, both to promote an understanding of Chinese culture and to provoke a discussion about the issues facing today s immigrantsNancy Menaldi Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc All rights reserved