Mao's Last Dancer to visit Maryborough with Qld Ballet

THE man best known as Mao's Last Dancer will be the guest of honour at a civic reception hosted by the council on Friday.

Li Cunxin, who wrote the best-selling autobiography Mao's Last Dancer which was made into a feature film, will be greeted by Mayor Gerard O'Connell as well as students from local dance schools at the function from 3.30-5pm.

Li is artistic director of the Queensland Ballet and is travelling to regional centres across the state with the production of Giselle which will be performed at the Brolga Theatre on Saturday.

"This is a huge coup for the Fraser Coast," Cr O'Connell said.

"The Brolga Theatre is a world class venue and we're very excited to show Li some of our fantastic facilities." 
Councillor for cultural and performing arts Phil Truscott said the Fraser Coast was an ideal starting point for Li to begin his Queensland tour.

"The Fraser Coast has a vibrant arts and cultural community," he said.

"This visit is a great opportunity to further strengthen our partnerships and forge new working relationships with the Queensland Ballet and other performing artists.

"The arts can be a very successful economic driver for the region and it's important we continue to attract these high profile and vibrant people to the Fraser Coast."

And on June 4, ballet theme will continue with the Brolga Theatre screening a live simulcast of Russia's Bolshoi Ballet performing Le Corsaire from the Queensland Performing Arts Centre.

The Bolshoi Ballet has not visited Australia in almost two decades and they are performing exclusively at QPAC.

About Li Cunxin

Li Cunxin is Queensland Ballet's new artistic director, starting with the 2013 season.

Having led a long and diverse career as a dancer, Li brings his passion for ballet, devotion to artistic excellence and international reputation and networks to Queensland Ballet's rich 53-year history.

At the age of eleven, Li was selected by Madame Mao's cultural advisors to attend the Beijing Dance Academy.

In 1979, he joined Ben Stevenson's Houston Ballet company as an exchange student and later went on to achieve the top rank of principal in 1982.

He moved to Melbourne in 1995 with his wife, dancer Mary McKendry, to join The Australian Ballet as a principal artist.

Li retired from dancing in 1999, at the age of 38, but maintained his strong ties to the ballet community.

Before taking on the role of Artistic Director at Queensland Ballet, Li worked in Melbourne as a senior manager at Bell Potter, one of the largest stockbroking firms in Australia.

He is currently on the board of the Bionics Institute and until his appointment as the artistic director of Queensland Ballet, he sat on the board of The Australian Ballet, which he joined in 2005.

In 2003, Li published his international best-selling autobiography Mao's Last Dancer, which has received numerous awards.

The book was adapted as a feature film in 2009.

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