Exit interview: Li Cunxin, Queensland Ballet

Mao’s Last Dancer has had an enormous impact on the ballet world, not only in Queensland, but across Australia and internationally.
Li Cunxin, Artistic Director, Queensland Ballet. Image supplied

Li Cunxin famously recounted his extraordinary life story in his memoir, Mao’s Last Dancer, which became an international best-seller. The book was also turned into a hugely successful film in which his rags to riches story depicted how an early life of grinding poverty and adversity was transformed through determination, hard work and resilience into one of high achievement in the world of dance.   

Li joined Queensland Ballet (QB) in 2012, his 11-year tenure marked by inspirational leadership as its Artistic Director. He is credited with having created a world-class ballet company with state-of-the-art facilities. Announcing in June his impending retirement at the end of 2023 due to ill health sent shock waves among the ballet community and he leaves the company on a recognised high.

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Suzannah Conway is ArtsHub's Brisbane-based Arts Feature Writer. Suzannah is an experienced arts administrator, having been CEO of Opera Queensland, the Brisbane Riverfestival and the Centenary of Federation celebrations for Queensland. She has been writing reviews and music articles for over 15 years and regularly reviews classical music, opera and musical theatre in particular for The Australian and Limelight magazine as well as other journals.