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Mao's Last Dancer

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Kathrin Simmons
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Mao's Last Dancer

The storyline is as follows: At the age of 11, a boy Li is plucked from a poor Chinese village by cultural delegates, and brought to a ballet  boarding school in Beijing. After a strict and hard ballet education, and proof himself of being of strong character conform to Maoism, he is chosen to participate in a cultural exchange program traveling to Texas. He is very successful in his ballet work in Texas as well but struggles in the beginning with his new freedom. He falls in love with an American woman and eventually fights for his freedom to stay in the United States.

I have watched this movie before the seminar started  and thought I could relate it easily to students in Physical Education due to the strong ballet connections of the movie. The movie Mao's Last Dancer  is based on the autobiography of a  professional dancer :Li Cunxin. The actors are all professional ballet dancers, so throughout the movie there are many high quality and art full dance scenes.

Students can relate to the movie, since it follows the dancer from a young age. The movie reflects the hardship that was brought upon  him as a young boy  to be far away from home while going through a tough militaristic like physical education. Scenes where he is crying in bed and missing his family and then being comforted by other boys ang new friends are very real and emotional and easy to understand for student viewers. My students would be introduced to professional ballet based on a real story while getting a glimpse of Maoism.


I would like my students to be encouraged by Li Cunxin determination and joy for dancing.