Mao's Last Dancer (2009)

PG  |   |  Biography, Drama, Music  |  1 October 2010 (USA)
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A drama based on the autobiography by Li Cunxin. At the age of 11, Li was plucked from a poor Chinese village by Madame Mao's cultural delegates and taken to Beijing to study ballet. In ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (autobiography)
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6 wins & 20 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Chi Cao ...
Penne Hackforth-Jones ...
Cynthia Dodds
Mason (as Chris Kirby)
Madeleine Eastoe ...
Wen Bin Huang ...
Shu Guang Liang ...
Jing Tring - 8 yrs
Ye Wang ...
Cunfar - 14 yrs
Neng Neng Zhang ...
Gong Mei
Wan Shi Xu ...
Shen Yu
Shao Wei Yi ...
Yang Ping
Hui Cong Zhan ...
Teacher Song
Ji Feng Sun ...


A drama based on the autobiography by Li Cunxin. At the age of 11, Li was plucked from a poor Chinese village by Madame Mao's cultural delegates and taken to Beijing to study ballet. In 1979, during a cultural exchange to Texas, he fell in love with an American woman. Two years later, he managed to defect and went on to perform as a principal dancer for the Houston Ballet and as a principal artist with the Australian Ballet. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

ballet | dancer | beijing | love | village | See All (274) »


Before You Can Fly You Have To Be Free.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for a brief violent image, some sensuality, language and incidental smoking | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

1 October 2010 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El prodigio  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$199,657 (USA) (20 August 2010)


$4,806,750 (USA) (3 December 2010)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Joan Chen and Cunxin Li share similar experiences in life: both were born in 1961, they were picked at a young age to pursue an artistic career and they both came to the United States in 1981. See more »


When Ben takes Li to the Houston Galleria to buy new clothes, he uses an ATM to get some cash. Although this scene takes place in the early 80's, the money that comes out features the newly designed $20 bill which was not introduced until 2006. See more »


Li - as an adult: In China, not so easy. Tell you what to do, where to go, what can say
See more »


References The Teahouse of the August Moon (1956) See more »


The Rite of Spring (Le Sacre du Primtemps)
Written by Igor Stravinsky
Performed by the Cleveland Orchestra, conducted by Pierre Boulez
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Not your average dance film.
23 January 2010 | by (Fremantle, Australia) – See all my reviews

Diane and I saw this excellent movie at Paradiso in Northbridge two days ago and we both were entranced by the beauty and sensitivity of Mao's Last Dancer. I admit that I was none too anxious about seeing this film about dancing but after the opening scenes in rural China and a quick cut to Li Cunxin and early dance years and I had become a total fan of the movie. Beresford's direction married to the acting and dancing ability of Chi Cao result in a movie about dance but that theme is only the canvas upon which this moving and quite dramatic story unfolds. The resulting movie is far, far more complex than I thought as I entered the theatre. Yes, of course, the ballet sequences are glorious to watch but this film, as I said, is not just about dancing. The script explores international politics, domestic trauma, family bonds, interpersonal tension and these are only my random memories. At the start of the film, I could not believe that so many hugely dramatic instances could flow from the life of a young man born into less than salubrious circumstances in rural China. There are many different scenes; Beresford edited the film in fast sequences and the total is amazingly complicated; I am in awe of such a complex life so richly lived. Put Mao's Last Dancer on your must-see list!

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Li is a horrible horrible person mablecheng1981
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