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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Movies: Mao's Last Dancer

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Our family saw this movie last night, as well. Even DH who shuns all things ballet related liked it. In fact, it was his idea to go. The fact that it was shown at an "arts house" theatre in our city where they serve adult beverages and real food probably didn't hurt! I am no judge of the technique, but I thought the dancers were fabulous. The story is amazing to those of my DD's age (17), who have only read about the oppression in Communist China, but did not grow up seeing it on the news and in the papers as artists defected to the West. Really enjoyed it!

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Just saw the movie with dd. Great story, very moving and beautiful dancing. What I found was so interesting was the China Politics and the Ballet politics weaving in and out of the story.

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Ballet has always been an art forum of "royal' entertainment. it was deeply moving to see at the end of movie a pas de deux performed on the dusty country road! Li actually had to quit dancing to become a stock broker to support his family. In fact, this movie won't be possible without the sponsorship from the broker firm Li is working for. This reminds me a recent interview by Sara Lamb who said she left USA for European companies due to the fact that US ballet companies often sacrifice artistic value for the sake of saving money!

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Arizona Native

Hmmm ... while agreeing with the general point that dancers are underpaid I don't believe that is part of this story ... I'm pretty sure that Mr. Cunxin has said that he began transitioning to a second career in his early 30's, knowing that a dancer's physical life is finite. He began doing it full time at about 35, when he ended his dance career at a pretty normal time. As a principal with Houston, he made a decent living. Not as much as he did in his second career, of course, but more than many people do.

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I highly recommend the book for those who loved this movie. The book contains much more about Li's life in China and his earlier training. The movie modified certain things such as Li actually came to America twice before defecting - he first came as a student in the summer intensive. Also he knew his parents were coming to America to see him perform. These are just 2 examples of some of the differences between the story in the movie and the actual story in Li's autobiography.

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I saw it in San Francisco a few months ago and it was just amazing! The male lead (name fails me at the moment) was a magnificent dancer and I could not take my eyes off of him when he was dancing. I think the movie was AMAZING and if you haven't seen it already, I highly reccomend that you somehow find a way to. I have a feeling that it's out on DVD, but I'm noot 100% sure...

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I too recommend the book - excellent and a fascinating insight into life in Communist China. There is an abridged version for young people, possibly with some upsetting passages deleted. I loved the film.

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This looks like a really good movie! Where could I find the book? Is the movie available in the US yet?

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If you put Mao's Last Dancer into the box at the top of this page, it will come up on the Amazon page. I can't find it available on DVD in the US, only Australia.

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The book is easily available. The movie was playing in selected theatres last year in the U.S. I saw it. I think the book is a lot better than the movie, but the dancer in the movie is excellent. The book has more details about his life in China. The DVD is also available used in the US through associated sellers on amazon.com.

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There is a teen version of the book, for those that are looking for inspiration for their young dancers along with a taste for recent Chinese history. I believe I saw a juvenile version as well.

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Just to add, I saw the movie first and loved it. It inspired me to read the book. I found the book to be simply amazing and could not put it down. It reads like a fiction novel and not a biography, maybe because it is simply unbelievable what life was like as late as the '70s in China. His story is so truly inspirational the way he tells it, and you can understand why he was so successful in his career. I highly recommend both!

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