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Mao's Last Dancer.

MAO'S LAST DANCER. Li Cunxin. 2004. Read by Paul English. 12 tapes. 15.5 hrs. Bolinda Audio. 1-74093-294-3. $96.00. Vinyl; content, reader, author notes. SA

The hardships of existence in a rural commune in China during the time of Mao's great leap forward come into view as world-class ballet dancer Li Cunxin traces his life story. He began as a peasant child who had the wit not to cry out when he was tested for physical suppleness. He and a handful of others from throughout China were sent to Madame Mao's new ballet academy in Beijing. Schedules and teaching protocols were harsh, and Cunxin sorely missed his parents and six brothers, but he knew his life and probably theirs would be better if he persevered. Good teachers and a resolute work ethic helped him overcome limited natural talent. A cultural exchange visit to Houston and contact with the Houston Ballet's artistic director, Ben Stevenson, led to Cunxin's disillusionment with communist propaganda, his defection, and subsequent life in the west. The detail in his narrative, which in other hands might be excessive, brightens the listener's appreciation of both his achievement and a family functional by any standard. The story of his return visit to China to perform at the age of 38 is especially heartwarming. English clearly characterizes Cunxin and handles expertly the Chinese phrases and names. Excellent selection. Edna Boardman, Bismarck, ND
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Author:Boardman, Edna
Publication:Kliatt
Article Type:Audiobook Review
Date:Nov 1, 2004
Words:233
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