…Or the first American movie ever where an Asian male does ballet and falls in love with a beautiful Caucasian female.
Mao’s Last Dancer is a movie that is scheduled to appear in some theaters this Friday, August 20, based on an autobiography by Li Cunxin, a beautiful Chinese dancer (see his real photo to the right). Directed by Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy) and starring gorgeous British dancer Chi Cao from the Birmingham Royal Ballet and Amanda Schull, who was the female lead in the ballet movie Center Stage, tells the true life story of Cunxin, who was chosen at a young age by the Chinese government to be trained to be a professional ballet dancer in the last years of the Cultural Revolution. As one of the best dancers in China, Cunxin came to the U.S. to bring glory to China but unexpectedly falls in love with an American woman, played by Amanda Schull. The Chinese government wants him to return to China, fearing they will lose him forever, but Cunxin makes the choice to defect and dramatic ending ensues.
The dancing in this movie is going to be spectacular; Cunxin is played by Cao, who is a principal dancer at Birgmingham Royal Ballet. Schull used to dance in the San Francisco Ballet, and the younger version of Cunxin is portrayed by Chengwu Guo, from the Australian Ballet. Who knew there were such talented male Asian dancers out there?
This story reminds me slightly of my own ballet teacher, albeit without the defection. She was also chosen by the Chinese government at a young age, trained and was given a full scholarship to study in New York City. Given their similar backgrounds (my teacher is such a gorgeous dancer), I’m looking forward to seeing Chao and Guo’s performances on the big screen this weekend.
-Read the Wall Street Journal article for a profile on Li Cunxin, the movie and his current career as a stockbroker