Maos Last Dancer

Mao’s Last Dancer is the autobiography of Li Cunxin. It tells his gripping tale of growing up in a poor family of six boys. At age eleven Li Cunxin was plucked from school by visiting officials to attend ballet school in Beijing; far away from his close knit family.
Mao’s Last Dancer not only tells the true story of a boy growing up and leaving home, but of his determination to become the best, overcome self doubt and question his loyalty to Communist ideology and his home country. His monumental personal struggle is set against the backdrop of the Mao’s regime of the sixties and seventies. This was an era of strict adherence to regulations and government suppression of the Chinese people.

The technique of symbolism is used throughout the prologue of the text Mao’s Last Dancer. When Li’s mother and father get married, they take part in many old Chinese wedding traditions which represent their future life together.
“Then she put eight pairs of chopsticks into her mother’s pocket. The remaining two she keeps …These symbolise the early arrival of sons” (prologue)

The use of Chinese customs and traditions in Mao’s Last Dancer gives the viewer background knowledge into the subject of the text and adds authenticity. The use of chopsticks symbolising the early arrival of sons shows the importance of having sons in China so they could work the land which match the views and main principles of the Communist Government.

Having sons were very important in Chinese Culture. “My mother eventually came to be known as ‘that lucky woman with the seven sons’ “. The inclusion of these cultural references help break down the cultural barriers between Cunxin and his reader. By understanding the culture he has come from, the reader is able to relate to Cunxin and empathise with his story.