Mao's Last Dancer
Mao's Last Dancer
Young Readers Edition
Li was born into utter poverty in Maoís communist China, at the age of
11 he was selected to train in Madame Mao's Beijing Dance Academy. And so
began Li's journey. The 7 years of harsh training regime at the Beijing
Dance Academy taught him discipline, resilience, determination and
perseverance. Liís astounding drive and relentless hard work made him one
of the best dancers China has produced.
When he was 18, Li was awarded one of the first cultural scholarships to
go to America, and subsequently been offered a soloist contract with the
Houston Ballet. Two years later, Li defected to the West in a dramatic
media storm, which involved the then Vice President, Mr George Bush Snr.
He then went on to become one of the best dancers in the world, won two
silver and a bronze medal at three International Ballet Competitions. In
1995, Li and his family moved to Australia where Li danced his last three
and half years as a principal dancer with the Australian Ballet.
For the final two years of his dancing, Li studied finance at the
Australian Securities Institute with a view of becoming a stockbroker.
This meant rising at five in the morning to start his daily ballet
practise, then racing to the stock exchange by eight. By the time he
joined the rest of the company's dancers for afternoon rehearsals; he had
already put in a full day's work. Li made a successful career transition
from ballet to finance in 1999. He is a senior manager at one of the
largest stockbroking firms in Australia.
The rich story of Liís inspirational life is recounted in his memoir
Mao's Last Dancer, which was published by Penguin-Australia in September
2003. It quickly rose to No. 1 on the Australian Non-Fiction Best-Seller
List and was named in Amazon.com's Break-Out Books list after only
several weeks after its US release before receiving the Christopher
Award for Literature. His book went on to win the Book of the Year Award
in Australia and was short-listed for several other prestigious literacy
awards. Itís in the 52nd reprint. Liís book has been translated into
several foreign languages and is sold in over 20 countries worldwide. In
May 2005, the Young Readersí Edition of Maoís Last Dancer has been
released in Australia. The Academy Award winning director Bruce
Beresford, producer Jane Scott and screenplay writer Jan Sardi have
teamed up to produce a blockbuster, award winning featured film based on
Liís extraordinary life.
Li has received Shepherd Centre's 2009 Australian Father of the Year
Award, he has been Honoured with a Doctorate for his contribution to Arts and
Literature by the Australian Catholic University. Li is also Queensland
Australian of the Year in 2014.