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Mao's Last Dancer

Author:  Li Cunxin

One day, not so very many years ago, a small peasant boy was chosen to study ballet at the Beijing Dance Academy. His mother urged him to take this chance of a lifetime.

But Li was only eleven years old and he was scared and lonely, pushed away from all that he had ever known and loved. He hated the strict training routines and the strange place he had been brought to. All he wanted to do was go home - to his mother, father and six brothers, to his own small village. But soon Li realised that his mother was right. He had the chance to do something special with his life - and he never turned back . . .

Your rating: None Average: 4.4 (16 votes)


Jul 04,2017

Mao's Last Dancer based in a small village in China, where a small, poor boy Cunxin has nothing but his family and friends...

This story opened my eyes to how lucky I am to have a sterdy roof over my head. Finding out what Li Cunxin's life was like, stopped me from taking breakfast, lunch and dinner for granted. He and his family only had dry yams from off the street to feed them and they worked 12 hours a day 7 days a week with only a few days to spare in Chinese new year. 

This was one of my favourite books I have ever read. There are so many different aspects to the autobiography, dance, legal, family, political, historical etc. 

I can't believe that I met Li Cunxin.... and I don't remember it because I was 8 at the time!

I would recomend this book to anyone, any age because there are so many different vesions for all ages!

In a few years I might even re-read it! It was that INCREDIBLE!

Nov 20,2014

Mao's last dancer is an extremely well written book. it is also very inspirational and filled with many different situations. it is written from the point of the author.

i enjoyed the book till the end and i recommend it to book lovers aged 10 and up.

Nov 20,2014

Mao’s Last Dancer is a beautifully written biography, sharing the story of a young peasant boy in extreme poverty who became a phenomenal dancer throughout the years. Li Cunxin lived with his six brothers and parents in a particularly poor part of China and attended school like others in the town. But one class could change his life forever. After living in this poor society, Cunxin is swept off his feet when he is taken to the Beijing Dance Academy where he was trained to be the elegant dancer he is today. This book enables us to feel certain feelings through the descriptive language and how much effort was put into this book. When reading this book, it shows us another way of living and puts us in the shoes of Cunxin as a young boy and it makes us feel the feelings portrayed throughout the story. As we progress through the book, we get to know more about Cunxin and it gives us a small backstory on his life. We get to understand the hardships with his great move and how he became the person he is today. Living our comfortable lives, we never would have to experience how Cunxin and his family lived because we have the luxury of a roof over our head and a large supply of food. As his life was very different to ours he took us into his town and shows us how he lived for many years before coming a star in the art of dance. Cunxin is able to experience things he never thought would be available to him. Cunxin’s adventures in the America showed him a new way to the world and the variety of opportunities was broadened as he progressed as a dancer.

This book is an amazing escape for those who are looking for a good book that they cannot put down. The story of Cunxin’s life got me hooked and will be sure to capture you as well. The text can be difficult for some to understand so it is recommended for ages 12 and up. Dancers are suited to this book as it revolves around the world of dance, which they can easily understand. This book is a great way to relax to some beautiful writing and see another way to the life we never had to live.

Apr 12,2014

This book is very well written. It is split in three parts: Chilhhood, Ballet and The West. This book is a story of great fortune but also the bitter sadness that comes with fortune. However some parts are fictional. This book is for anyone from nine to ninety-nine. It starts with Li's Mother getting married and ends with another wedding, his brother's. From a peasant boy, lI Cunxin becomes a famous ballet star. This book is a must read and I guarantee you won't put it down!

Aug 18,2013

This is a book we have to read in school for yr8.

It is interesting to see how he lived with his family, they were very poor. And then how hard his life was to become a part of the Chinese ballet.

The book has pictures of his life in the middle, which makes it interesting to see how he looked when he was growing up.



Jul 22,2013
This review is a spoiler. View anyway?

In a small, desperately poor communist village in north-east China a small peasant boy sits at his rickety school desk more interested in the birds outside, when three army officials come into his class. The officials are looking for small peasants to become Chairman Mao's next generation of dancers.

The small peasant watches his classmates being taken away, when his teacher taps one of the officials on the shoulder and suggests him.

He is sent to a newly opened Dance Academy in Beijing at the age of eleven and misses his family dearly. After seven years at the Beijing Dance Academy, Cunixn Li loves dancing with all his heart and is selected to go to America for the summer.

America is new and different. Cunixn (15) tastes freedom for the first time…… and he loves it.

This book is a very touching story of one boy courage and desire to help his family through his own success and freedom.



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