CinemaDave (cinemadave) wrote,

"Mao's Last Dance"

For those seeking class, dignity and a sensational true story about recent history, then go see **Mao's Last Dancer.**

**Mao's Last Dancer** is based on the autobiography by ballet dancer Li Cunxin, who defected to the United States during the Cold War. Living in poverty with his agrarian family until age 11, Li was selected by Madame Mao's cultural delegates and taken to Beijing to study ballet. With a full curriculum of singing songs praising Mao Tse Tung (with echoes of current elementary school children singing the "Obama" anthem), Li is the worst student in this class.

However one mentor sees an individual talent in the boy, so the teacher does something illegal under Red China. The teacher smuggles a video tape of Communist defector Mikhail Baryshnikov performing high jumps. Inspired by another person's individual achievement, Li performance improves.

Through a cultural exchange program, Li (Chi Cao) becomes a lead performer with the Houston Ballet, among whose patrons include former Vice President George Bush. While he is taught to be paranoid of all things non Communist, Li learns about the common sense simplicity of individual freedom. Falling in love with another dancer, Li defects.

While **Mao's Last Dancer** suffers from a few stagnant legal procedure scenes in the second half, the film succeeds as a cultural drama. Director Bruce Beresford lovingly displays the power and the passion of ballet with attention to detail. Actor Chi Cao was trained by two of Li Cuxin's former mentors.

There is a sense of history about **Mao's Last Dancer" that will remembered far longer than a Piranha chewing on a topless beach bimbo. Casting Shanghai born Joan Chen, (who became an American citizen in 1988,) adds an authenticity to this important motion picture opening this weekend.

Here he/they are MICKEY MAOs another creation by sculptor Jim McNalis in his series The Dictators.
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