Mao's Last Dancer
I recently watched "Mao's Last Dancer," a 2009 film by Bruce Beresford, based on the autobiography of ballet dancer Li Cunxin.
This is a story about a Chinese boy who grew up in a family of 7 boys in rural Communist China. Li's family was poor, but his parents were loving. In his classroom one day, officials came to select students for Madame Mao's Beijing Dance Academy. Li was overlooked until his teacher pointed him out. He was then examined for flexibility and tumbling ability, and finally assigned to become a ballet dancer.
Li was sent away from his family and subjected to intense training for years, yet he didn't even like ballet. Li wanted to go home, until one of his ballet teachers sent him a video of Barishnakov's dancing, which opened up a whole new world to Li.
Li grew to become passionate about ballet and was subsequently noticed by Ben Stevenson of the Houston Ballet, who was visiting in China. Li was given the opportunity to travel to Houston as an exchange student for 3 months. There, he met a beautiful American girl named Elizabeth Mackey, and Li decided that he didn't want to return to Communist China. This became problematic, and Li was detained at the Chinese consulate. You'll have to watch it to see what happens next!
What an amazing story of a remarkable man--I really enjoyed this movie.