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November 2015 News

Capacity crowd inspired by Li’s dedication to family

  • Written by  Ian Anderson
Li Cunxin’s life-story of poverty-tricken boy to world famous dancer was an inspiration to 370 guests at the 2015 Family Week Breakfast Photo: Ian Anderson

370 guests celebrated the 10th annual  Family Week at the 2015 Family Week Breakfast, and were inspired by special guest speaker Li Cunxin.  

Hosted by Mrs Mary Wagner at Wellcamp Airport, the guests enjoyed a cooked breakfast in the unique surrounds of the new airport terminal, with a spectacular view across the runway.

The breakfast was the culmination of a week of celebrating the importance of family, and this year a number of organisations, schools, churches and nursing homes got involved by holding special events for families in the community.

The highly anticipated keynote speech by world famous ballet dancer, now Artistic Director at Ballet Queensland, Li Cunxin, did not disappoint the capacity crowd. 370 guests sat in enthralled silence as Li recounted his heartbreaking life-story of growing up in absolute poverty in China.

As made famous by his autobiography and the blockbuster hit movie ‘Mao’s Last Dancer’ Li shared how his life was changed forever when he was plucked out of desperate poverty and sent to train at the Beijing Dance Academy.

“Those few years were truly hard, I was dreadfully homesick,” said Li. “What made my life even more miserable was the fact I hated ballet with a passion.”

Training from 5:30am to 9pm six days a week, Li described it as brutal, especially since he was one of the worst students. 

“Then one amazing teacher walked into my life,” said Li. “It was because of him, I discovered what I cared about, what I was passionate about.”

Through the guidance and inspiration of this teacher, Li discovered the most important thing to him was his family, and making sure his family were happy and provided for.

“He told me to work hard and become the best possible dancer, then in return I could come back and help my family,” said Li.

“From that moment onwards I worked harder and harder. I got up earlier and earlier, and went to sleep later and later.”

“It was through that determination, persistence and an enormous amount of hard work, from one of the worst students at the Beijing Dance Academy, the laughing stock of everyone, eventually I graduated at the top of my class.”

The rest is history, as Li became a world famous, highly decorated dancer.  

Li’s inspirational journey of perseverance and hard work struck a cord with the captivated audience.

Downlands College School Captain Peter Blatz said the speech made him think about his own family and what he could do to help them.

“Make the most of every opportunity that is given to you,” was the one thing that impacted Peter the most. “Work hard while you can to bring yourself those opportunities.”

“80 or 90 percent of my success,” said Li, “is dedication, passion, and working hard to make your dreams come true.”

Listen to Li's full speech below.


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