Li Cunxin is famous the world-over for his ballet career and the story he lay bare in his memoir, Mao's Last Dancer. Now after working behind the scenes as the Artistic Director of Queensland Ballet, he is being cast back into the spotlight for a world-first exhibition at Museum of Brisbane.
Opening this December, the exhibition presents a retrospective of Li’s life – one that delves deeper than the bestselling book many have come to know and love. In compiling the exhibition, the museum has reached out to Li’s former dance teachers in China as well as his friends and family in Australia and the USA.
“We are getting a fascinating insight into how pivotal Li has been to the lives of others,” says Museum of Brisbane's Director, Renai Grace.
Since taking up the role of Artistic Director at Queensland Ballet in 2012, Li has become an advocate of Brisbane’s arts scene. In addition to his work at Queensland Ballet, which is now attracting global talent to the company, he is also a vocal advocate for more investment in Brisbane’s cultural infrastructure.
The exhibition traces Li’s life through his keepsakes, photographs, film and costumes. It starts with his childhood in poverty-stricken rural China and works through his ballet career, acknowledging the contribution he has made to the arts while also highlighting the social changes that have occurred in his lifetime.
“Many extraordinary people in China, the United States and Australia made my story possible,” says Li. “I continue to be inspired by their generosity and friendship and am delighted that this exhibition introduces them to Australian audiences.”
Mao's Last Dancer the exhibition: A portrait of Li Cunxin
1 December, 2017 to 29 April, 2018
Museum of Brisbane
Image by Branco Gaica, courtesy of Australian Ballet and Li Cunxin