When he was 18, Li Cunxin was awarded one of the first cultural scholarships to go to America, and subsequently been offered a soloist contract with the Houston Ballet. Two years later, Li defected to the West in a dramatic media storm, which involved the then Vice President, Mr George Bush Snr.
Li Cunxin then went on to become one of the best dancers in the world, won two silver and a bronze medal at three International Ballet Competitions. In 1995, Li and his family moved to Australia where Li danced his last three and half years as a principal dancer with the Australian Ballet.
For the final two years of his dancing, Li Cinxun studied finance at the Australian Securities Institute with a view of becoming a stockbroker. This meant rising at five in the morning to start his daily ballet practise, then racing to the stock exchange by eight. By the time he joined the rest of the company’s dancers for afternoon rehearsals; he had already put in a full day’s work.
Li Cunxin made a successful career transition from ballet to finance in 1999. He is a senior manager at one of the largest stockbroking firms in Australia.
The rich story of Li Cinxun’s inspirational life is recounted in his memoir Mao’s Last Dancer, which was published by Penguin Australia in September 2003. It quickly rose to No. 1 on the Australian Non-Fiction Best-Seller List and was named in Amazon.com’s Break-Out Books list after only several weeks after its US release before receiving the Christopher Award for Literature.
Cunxin’s book went on to win the Book of the Year Award in Australia and was short-listed for several other prestigious literacy awards. It is in the 32nd reprint. Lis book has been translated into several foreign languages and is sold in over 20 countries worldwide. In May 2005, the Young Readers Edition of Maos Last Dancer was released in Australia. The Academy Award winning producer and screenplay writer of the film Shine, Jane Scott and Jan Sardi respectively, have teamed up again to produce a featured film based on Li’s extraordinary life.
As a motivational and inspirational speaker, Li Cinxun’s unique real life story works very effectively with corporations and conferences’ various themes and objectives. It is a story that can touch people deep in their hearts.