Houston, We Have A Blockbuster


Mao%26#8217;s Last Dancer recent premier to a full house brought together the Arts of Houston and the unique community that appreciates them so. The venue was ever appropriate considering The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston has recently been feeling all things Asian, adding both Arts of India and China Galleries. At the The Landmark River Oaks Theatre this Friday (August 20), this movie is not to be missed.

The film tells the story of Li Cunxin's rise to ballet fame, and is premised on the extraordinary autobiography he penned in 2003. Born into a large Chinese family living in abject poverty during Mao Zedong's reign, Cunxin was the only child chosen from his village to audition for the Beijing Dance Academy. Once chosen to attend he confronted the emotionally jarring reality of an adolescence without parents, which was compounded by the physically exhausting life he began to lead as a dancer. What emerged from the situation was his own unique and otherworldly dancing style, and his eventual discovery by then Houston ballet director Ben Stevenson; the rest, as they say, is history. As if the the movie's ties to Houston aren't reason enough to see the film, Chi Cao's performance, as Cunxin, surely is; a principal dancer with the Birmingham Royal Ballet, scenes in which Cao dances are simply a pleasure to watch. (Click to view the trailer)

What especially endeared the film to its audience was that many had seen, and known, the film's characters first hand when Cunxin first came to Houston during the 70s as a dancer for the Houston Ballet. The films reflection of our city's adoration of the arts made one and all proud to be a Houstonian, even if only for the night.%26nbsp; %26nbsp;

On hand for the screening were Li Cunxin himself; Kyle Mchlaclan and Steven Greenwood who star in the film; Cunxin's immigration attorney, Charles Foster; and former Houston ballet director, Ben Stevenson. All of whom were on hand to great audience member afterwords at a reception given by Cunxin's longtime friend GiGi Wong.%26nbsp;
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