Li Cunxin on 10 years as artistic director of Queensland Ballet
For Queensland Ballet Artistic Director and renowned author of Mao’s Last Dancer Li Cunxin, a confluence of two historic events for his beloved company have brought his life into beautiful perspective.
This year marks his 10th anniversary as Artistic Director of Queensland Ballet, and soon he will be part of the official opening of Queensland Ballet’s new home at the Thomas Dixon Centre—fulfilling a transformation he envisioned from when he first started with the company.
“The stars have aligned beautifully for the two things to be happening around the same time—it is quite nicely aligned now which is beautiful,” Cunxin said.
“Sometimes I still feel like I’m living a dream and it’s indeed a beautiful dream.
“You know, obviously I had wonderful success as a dancer, success as a stock broker, as an author. But I have to say one of the most rewarding, most satisfying chapters of my life would have to be directing the Queensland Ballet.”
Rising from impoverished beginnings in communist China, to international ballet dancer and author of best selling autobiography Mao’s Last Dancer, Li Cunxin has lived an enormous life on stages around the world.
Li Cunxin reflects on this in this episode of Streets of Your Town podcast, telling us his involvement in Queensland Ballet is the part of his life which he is most proud.
“Oh, it is so satisfying to help the young generation of dancers to realise their dreams, their potential, to be able to bring them some of the most beautiful ballets, such as Manon, for example, later this year and Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Dracula; we danced, which was a huge success,” he said.
“For them to work with world class choreographers, to help them to become the world class dancers that they have the potential to become and to help to build a brand new school with the world's best training system, which is the Russian Vaganova Training system, to bring that best system here.
“And to be able to see the positive effect, the positive impact ballet is making for our society in Queensland, throughout Queensland, not just Brisbane.
“I could not have dreamed that one day I would become a director, be able to pass on my knowledge and to be able to foster, nurture and help a new generation of stars to go on making their own contributions in the dance profession. So I think it’s incredibly satisfying for me to see that my hard work has translated into even a more magical effects in the lives, in the lives of others.”
After numerous Covid delays, cancellations and postponements to the refurbishment timeline, Li Cunxin now feels the timing is right to open the Thomas Dixon Centre with Greg Horsman’s contemporary reimagining of the classic children’s tale of Peter and the Wolf from June 24 until July 2.
“It’s going to be truly a world class building,” Li Cunxin said.
“I have travelled around the world and throughout my career I've seen some spectacular buildings for dance, but this one will have to be way up there amongst one of the world’s very best.”
To celebrate his 10th year at the helm of Queensland Ballet, he has also personally curated a triple bill of his favourite works from his time with Queensland Ballet, called Li’s Choice.
From the vault and latest news
If you’re looking for a new podcast to listen to as well as your beloved Streets of Your Town—amazing journo extraordinaire Matthew Condon has just released his new podcast busting open the secrets behind Queensland crime.
And while you’re there, you might want to listen to the interview with Matthew a couple of years ago for The Journo Project. He gave incredible insights into how journo’s investigate such tough stories, and the personal toll it takes.
Thanks to you all my Wandering Journo tribe! Your support of this substack newsletter keeps me going to find the great yarns from around Australia in Mildred the Cantankerous Kombi. Hope to see you on the road soon!