Mao’s Last Dancer stays with Queensland Ballet

Cunxin Li is continuing on as Artistic Director

Queensland Ballet

After a decade of directorship with Queensland Ballet (QB), Artistic Director Li Cunxin* AO has signed on for another three years, with big dreams to take the Queensland born-and-bred Company to even greater heights.

The announcement will be made today at QB’s 2022 Season Launch, with the company unveiling a year of celebration, change and bold ambition, reflecting the last 10 years of directorship under Li.

“My life changed 10 and a half years ago when I walked into Queensland Ballet as its fifth Artistic Director,” said Mr Li.

“This journey has enriched my life and offered so much fulfilment and joy, as well as challenges that have dared me to dream fearlessly and push past what seems impossible to truly see game-changing, and at times life-changing, outcomes.

“I’m thrilled to sign-on for another three years and I thank the Board and our community for believing in me and allowing me to have the opportunity to continue making a positive impact on and off the stage.

“Queensland Ballet is such a unique company and every day I am surrounded by the contagious energy and unbreakable spirits of our dancers, our creative teams, our enabling teams and all of our loyal supporters,” Mr Li added.

Renowned for his iconic story Mao’s Last Dancer, Li is celebrated as one of the greatest dancers in the world and joined QB in mid-2012.

QB Board Chair Julieanne Alroe says the Company’s extraordinary growth in the last decade is testament to Li’s bold vision and commitment to QB.

“Queensland Ballet has grown remarkably over the past ten years.  Building on the legacy of those before him, Li has inspired a world-class ballet company with 60 dancers, a world-stage repertory of ballet works, an internationally renowned Academy and a far-reaching community engagement program that enriches the lives of so many,” said Ms Alroe.

“Under his tenure we opened the Queensland Ballet Academy home at Kelvin Grove, and in 2022 we will open our revitalised Thomas Dixon Centre in West End and build upon our acquired land in Yatala that will one day house our Roy and Nola Thompson Production Centre,” said Ms Alroe.

“The next three years will be even more transformational with Li at the helm, as we consolidate our recent growth and ensure Queensland Ballet will continue to thrive in the decades to come. We are thrilled that together with Dilshani Weerasinghe as Executive Director, QB is in safe hands,” she added.

QB Executive Director Dilshani Weerasinghe says the news couldn’t have come at a better time.

“Queensland Ballet, like so many organisations, have been through a challenging time due to the global pandemic.  The QB team has navigated many different scenarios, postponements and lockdowns.  With so much still in flux, it means a lot to be able to look to the future knowing that Li remains at the artistic helm,” said Ms Weerasinghe.

“The next three years will be about ensuring Li’s incredible legacy is grounded and solid.  His incredible generosity and energy remained unfettered, and we couldn’t be happier that the magic that has driven so many positive outcomes for both QB and our community over the last ten years will continue. The plans are indeed exciting and we can’t wait to share them”.

QB’s Season 2022 is brimming with iconic works, including triple-bill Li’s Choice, featuring three personal picks from Li to celebrate his decade as Artistic Director. The triple-bill includes We Who Are Left by QB Resident Choreographer Natalie Weir, Glass Concerto by QB Chief Ballet Master Greg Horsman and the lively ragtime ballet Elite Syncopations by Sir Kenneth MacMillan.

In September 2022, audiences will be treated to two special guest character artists in Sir Kenneth Macmillan’s Manon. In this iconic tale of seduction, ambition and greed, Mr Li and QB Ballet Mistress Mary Li will grace the stage in character roles. The couple fell in love while dancing together at the Houston Ballet with their story told in Li’s acclaimed biography Mao’s Last Dancer and Mary’s own retelling in Mary’s Last Dance.

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