'Mao's last dancer' receives ACU honorary doctorate

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

23 April 2008: Internationally acclaimed dancer, author, businessman and inspirational speaker Li Cunxin has been awarded an honorary doctorate by Australian Catholic University (ACU) at its Sydney Arts and Sciences graduation ceremony at the State Theatre yesterday.

Photo: Li Cunxin delivering Occasional Address
Honorary Doctorate recipient Li Cunxin delivering the Occasional Address at the Sydney Arts and Sciences Graduation ceremony
Chancellor Julian McDonald with Hon Doc Lin Cinxun and Vice-Chancellor Professor Craven
Honorary Doctorate recipient Lin Cinxun is joined by Chancellor Julian McDonald and Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven

The recognition follows the announcement that production has begun in China of a film adaptation of Li Cunxin’s bestselling autobiography, the 2003 Australian Booksellers Association’s Book of the Year award, Mao’s Last Dancer.

Li Cunxin rose from dire poverty to become China’s leading ballet dancer. During his dancing career, he attended Madame Mao’s Beijing Dance Academy and the Beijing Dance Academy, served as a soloist with the Houston Ballet in the USA and was principal dancer with the Australian Ballet.

Most recently, as a successful businessman, Li Cunxin has remained focused on the care of others, particularly his family in China and in more recent years his family in Australia. His dream is to establish a scholarship fund in support of educational needs of underprivileged children in third-world countries.

“His personal values of concern for others, his love of his fellow humans, determination in the face of adversity, his sense of forgiveness of those who might have hindered his path to success, and his total loyalty to the tasks at hand, all mark Li Cunxin as a most extraordinary Australian,” said ACU Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven.

Australian Catholic University (ACU) established as Australia’s only Catholic, national, publicly funded university is open to all. The University empowers its students and staff with a strong sense of social responsibility and concern for the moral and ethical dimensions of their study and their professional and personal lives.