News: Mao's Last Dancer U.S. Premiere

Mao’s Last Dancer, a new movie released by Samuel Goldwyn Films, hits American theaters August 20. The film is inspired by Li Cunxin’s autobiography.

 

Eleven-year-old Cunxin is plucked from his poverty-stricken home in the rural Shandong province of People’s Republic of China to attend The Beijing Dance Academy. When Ben Stevenson (played by Bruce Greenwood), then artistic director of Houston Ballet, travels to Beijing, 18-year-old Cunxin (played by Birmingham Royal Ballet principal Chi Cao) returns to Texas with the
company as an exchange student. Struggling to uphold his Communist identity in late 1970s Houston, Cunxin rises to stardom within the company and falls in love with dance student Elizabeth Mackey (Center Stage star Amanda Schull). Rashly marrying Mackey, Cunxin applies for an extension to his visa so he can stay in the U.S., but political upheaval in China holds him hostage in the Chinese Consulate for 21 hours. Cunxin is forced to choose to either return home or defect—exiling him from China forever.

 

Mao’s Last Dancer is rich with historical content and stunning dance performances. It is directed by Academy Award nominee Bruce Beresford and features choreography by Australian choreographer Graeme Murphy.

 

 

Photo:  Chi Cao a s Li Cunxin (with Camilla Vergotis) in Mao's Last Dancer. Courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Film

Teachers Trending
Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy. Photo courtesy Dance With Me

Listening to Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy riff together makes it crystal-clear why each has mastered the art of partnering in the ballroom—they've long been doing this dance in real life as brothers and business partners.

Along with their "Dancing with the Stars" pedigree (and a combined three mirror-ball trophies between them), Maks and Val (and their father, Sasha) also run Dance With Me, a dance company hosting six ProAm Dancesport competitions annually and running 14 brick-and-mortar studio locations across the U.S.

Last year, the pair launched an online component, Dance & Co. The online video platform offers beginner through advanced instruction in not only ballroom but an array of other styles, as well as dance fitness classes from HIIT to yoga to strength training. "DWTS" fans will recognize such familiar faces as Peta Murgatroyd, Jenna Johnson, Sharna Burgess and Emma Slater, along with Maks and Val themselves.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
@jayplayimagery, courtesy Kerollis

In the spring of 2012, Barry Kerollis was abruptly forced into treating his career as a small business. Having just moved cross-country to join BalletX, he got injured and was soon let go.

"I'd only ever danced with big companies before," the now-freelance dance-teacher-choreographer-podcaster recalls. "That desperation factor drove me to approach freelancing with a business model and a business plan."

As Kerollis acknowledges, getting the business of you off the ground ("you" as a freelance dance educator, that is) can be filled with unexpected challenges—even for the most seasoned of gigging dancers. But becoming your own CEO can make your work–life balance more sustainable, help you make more money, keep you organized, and get potential employers to offer you more respect and improved working conditions. Here's how to get smart now about branding, finances and other crucial ways to tell the dance world that you mean business.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Courtesy Oleson

American dance educator Shannon Oleson was teaching recreational ballet and street-dance classes in London when the pandemic hit. As she watched many of her fellow U.S. friends pack up and return home from their international adventures, she made the difficult choice to stick with her students (as well as her own training—she was midway through her MFA at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance).

Despite shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders, she was able to maintain a teaching schedule that kept her working with her dancers through Zoom, as well as lead some private, in-home acro classes following government guidelines. But keeping rec students interested in the face of pandemic fatigue hasn't been easy.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.