In this special event hosted by the Australia & New Zealand Festival, Queensland Ballet's Artistic Director will discuss the company’s forthcoming London production 'La Sylphide' with Lyndsey Winship (Evening Standard), along with his best-selling autobiography Mao's Last Dancer in which he chronicles his extraordinary life.
At the age of 11, Li Cunxin was selected by Madame Mao's cultural advisors to attend the Beijing Dance Academy. In 1979, he joined Houston Ballet as an exchange student, becoming one of the first two cultural exchange students allowed to go to America to study under Mao’s regime. In a dramatic defection, he was subsequently locked up in the Chinese Consulate in Houston. This created a standoff between the Chinese and the American governments, and became the headline story in America. Twenty-one hours later, he walked out of the Chinese Consulate as a free man.
Li went on to achieve the rank of Principal for Houston Ballet in 1982, eventually moving to Melbourne in 1995 with his wife, dancer Mary McKendry, retiring as a dancer and appointed Artistic Director of Queensland Ballet in July 2012.
The evening will begin with a welcome by the Australian High Commissioner, HE the Hon Alexander Downer AC.
Tickets are £10, £8 conc or £5 for students, and include a glass of wine on arrival.
Please aim to arrive for 6pm (bag and security checks, plus drinks on arrival).
The discussion will take place from 6.30pm-7.30pm, followed by book signings.