Essay Example on Mao’s Last Dancer Written by Li Cunxin Review








Mao’s Last Dancer Written by Li Cunxin published by Penguin Group 2003 Introduction This book entitled Mao’s Last Dancer written by Li Cunxin highlights a true story about the author’s life as a ballet dancer as he struggles through his life of poverty and his journey of dancing In Li s younger years Mao Zedong was the chairman of the communist party who tried to create a new socialist China for the people of China who lived in great poverty Li was very lucky that his dancing got him to escape a life of poverty that was difficult in China This story of Li s journey is about the nature of family love courage and obsession The general aim of this eye catching book is how much one s life can change through their lifetime being honest and refreshing Summary of content In 1961 three years of Mao's Great Leap Forward along with three years of poor harvests had left rural China suffering terribly from disease and deprivation Li Cunxin his parents sixth son lived in a small house with twenty of his relatives and along with the rest of his family For years they were on the verge of starvation But when he was eleven years old Madame Mao decided to revive the Peking Dance Academy and sent her men into the countryside searching for children to attend Chosen on the basis of his physique alone Li Cunxin was taken from his family and sent to the city for rigorous training Li s life is soon changed when at the age of eleven he is selected by Madame Mao's cultural arts program to audition for and later join the Beijing Dance Academy This stroke of luck affords Li a chance at a good job and avoids the fear of going hungry

With the program and the Academy Li must work hard at his new station in life He trains hard year after year and in 1979 his efforts seem to pay off A break comes through with a choreographer and artistic director Ben Stevenson Li is selected to spend a summer under Stevenson s tutelage at the Houston Ballet in America This event is not only a breakthrough for Li it is a blessing for the political relationship between the two countries Itis the first exchange of artists between China and America since 1949 Analysis and evaluation of the book This is such a beautifully written memoir It's not so much the language that is beautiful but the content and the emotion captured in the words The author details the hardships of his childhood and the life of his parents and his brothers in Communist China It's such a stark contrast to the life he ends up living in the West and I so enjoyed reading about all the vast differences he found between the two countries and cultures The book has certainly given a new appreciation of dancers ballet in particular and their utter dedication to their art The author showed great courage and determination in perfecting his dancing and the blood sweat and tears that went with it When he s selected among the many students in his school to attend the illustrious dance school in Beijing he faced loneliness and homesickness for the initial years at the school He was allowed home only once a year for one month for the Chinese New Year He saved what he could of his meager allowance to buy gifts for his family and friends and also money for his parents

The writing about China during that period was certainly interesting particularly from the perception of someone who lived through it This is an inspiring and touching book which gives you a look into a peasant's life in communist China and that of a ballet dancer On a more personal level the author shows a lot of raw emotion particularly for his family determination and inner strength Li Cunxin was born in a remote province of China at a time when Mao was in his final years of power and the Cultural Revolution was in full flower Li gives devastating descriptions of peasant life during that time He his parents and six brothers lived in a single room concrete building without electricity or running water and a hole for a toilet They struggled for food daily and yet tried to keep the basic traditions of Chinese life including honoring ancestors celebrating the lunar new year and family loyalty Conclusion Conclusively Li Cunxin highlighted his life as a dancer during the tough times in China with poverty such as the hardships of money starvation and a crowded home I would recommend this book to others if they were looking for a very interesting autobiography about China during difficult times and how one boy made it out by doing something he loved Alyssa Smith Period 6 Mr. Orth January 1st 2018

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