‘Mao’s Last Dancer’ Li Cunxin honoured with an Order of Australia

Li Cunxin with QB dancers. Photo by Georges Antoni.
Li Cunxin with QB dancers. Photo by Georges Antoni.

Li Cunxin has had a distinguished career, first as a dancer, then as a stockbroker, author and as Artistic Director of Queensland Ballet. He now adds the title Order of Australia to his list of achievements. He was honoured at 2019 Queen’s Birthday celebrations for his services to performing arts, particularly ballet. 

“This is truly something special for me,” says Cunxin. “As someone who has lived all over the world and now calls Australia home, it is such an honour to be recognised as contributing to this wonderful country which has given me so much.”

Li Cunxin in 'Rite of Spring'. Photo by Jim Caldwell, courtesy of Houston Ballet.
Li Cunxin in ‘Rite of Spring’. Photo by Jim Caldwell, courtesy of Houston Ballet.

As a former principal artist with The Australian Ballet, the Houston Ballet, and current Artistic Director of Queensland Ballet, Cunxin is highly respected. He says, “It’s a privilege to be able to share the gift of ballet around Queensland, Australia, and the world, through my work with Queensland Ballet, and I am thrilled to have a positive impact through this.”  

Cunxin is also known for Mao’s Last Dancer, the biographical story describing growing up in the harsh conditions of Maoist China, and the rigorous training of dancers at the Beijing Dance Academy. Mao’s Last Dancer was adapted into a feature film in 2009.  

Li Cunxin. Photo by Eduardo Vieira.
Li Cunxin. Photo by Eduardo Vieira.

“I feel so lucky to have a career doing something I absolutely love,” shares Cunxin, “and it’s always been my hope that through my story and career that I can inspire others and encourage people to follow their dreams.”

Cunxin’s work at Queensland Ballet is part of what he is recognised for in the award. As well as a young artist development program and growing the size and calibre of the company, he notes the recent successes of Queensland Ballet in programming adventurous work in its Bespoke seasons. As well as this, “there are two massive infrastructure projects — redeveloping our home in Brisbane’s West End and the construction of our purpose-built Queensland Ballet Academy,” according to Cunxin. “These are two legacy projects that will enable the sustainable growth of our artform well into the future.”

You can find out more about Li Cunxin on his website: www.licunxin.com.

Queensland Ballet is currently in rehearsals for Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet, opening at the Lyric on August 28. For tickets and more information, visit www.queenslandballet.com.au.

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