Tri­umph as Queens­land Bal­let com­pany plies trade in China

The Courier-Mail - - NEWS - PHIL BROWN

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.

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