Triumph as Queensland Ballet company plies trade in China
QUEENSLAND Ballet artistic director Li Cunxin’s career came full circle last night as the company began a tour of China with a performance in Shanghai.
The one-time defector has taken our state company to new heights and was keen to return in triumph to his homeland.
The company performed A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Shanghai City Theatre and has another performance tonight before moving on for shows in Suzhou, Beijing and Xi’an.
Li said he was thrilled to be back in his homeland to show off his company.
“We have built this company into a world-class ballet ensemble,” he said.
“This will be the first international performance by the company of this ballet by the internationally renowned choreographer, Liam Scarlett.”
Scarlett, an artistic associate with Queensland Ballet, is also artist in residence for The Royal Ballet in London.
After Li defected to the West from Communist China in 1981, he became a pariah in his homeland.
He told the extraordinary story of his rise from poverty to international ballet star in his autobiography Mao’s Last Dancer, which was made into a successful Hollywood film.
His relationship with his native land has healed over the decades and he travels back to visit family whenever he can.
“Ever since I took on the artistic directorship of Queensland Ballet, it has been a dream of mine to take the company back to where it all began for me in China so many years ago,” Li said.
“Chinese audiences are very discerning and culturally savvy. I could not be prouder of the company and the production that we’re taking to China – this is a very important milestone for us. “To be representing Queensland and Australia on the world stage is a dream come true for me and I know it is for many of our dancers and staff. “Li said China was where he was “given the gift of ballet ... and for that I am forevergrateful. “My experiences there made me who I am today, made me the best dancer I could be and it’s where I learnt the life skills that shaped my life and career.” Li said he expected the tour to be “quite an emotional experience ... much of my family are still in China and to be presenting this company that I’ve helped to shape into a global force, will be so rewarding.
“On a wider scale, we as a company are thrilled to be playing a small role in strengthening China Australia relations through this cultural exchange opportunity.
“We firmly believe in the power of the arts to bring communities together.”
Queensland Ballet has signed an MOU with Shanghai Ballet Company, which will perform in Brisbane as part of QB’s 2020 season.
There will be ongoing opportunities for exchanges for dancers, business, production and artistic teams.