One of the dance world’s heroes, Li Cunxin, visited the NZSD in April to provide a master class for the School’s classical students.

Widely known for his autobiography ‘Mao’s Last Dancer’, which also became a feature film in 2009, Li has had an interesting road to stardom. Born in rural China and trained at the Beijing Dance Academy, he is now artistic director of Australia’s Queensland Ballet.

Li who last visited the School in 2012, was in New Zealand to present three events for the Asia New Zealand Foundation’s 20th Anniversary, including this master class. He led the NZSD students majoring in classical ballet in a grueling 90 minute class, that extended their technique and tested their fitness.

Second year student Charlotte Gleeson said, to be in class with Li Cunxin was “so beneficial, and inspirational. You had to be really focussed and pick things up quickly. It gave me an idea of what to expect in a company”. She said “It was really exciting to be taught by Li, I’ve seen the movie Mao’s Last Dancer lots of times.”

The class was watched by supporters and staff of the School, local dance teachers, and two members of the NZSD Scholars programme. New Zealand School of Dance director Garry Trinder said “Li Cunxin is a substantial force in the international dance world. His wisdom and life experience go beyond technique and musicality to taste and artistry.”

“We are fortunate to have Li bring this rich ballet tradition to our school. Li is a wonderfully perceptive, intelligent and inspirational teacher.”


Thank you to Asia New Zealand Foundation for making this master class possible.