My favorite book of this year is "Mao's Last Dancer." I have such a connection with this book and the story it describes. It feels so mine: the emotions, his thoughts, and his dreams. He used the same words to push himself that I said to myself as a little girl. The feelings that he shares in the book, I still feel them now. The only difference is that he accomplished his dream and I have not yet.
I saw the movie based on this book one day at the International Cinema. This is one of my favorite things to do at BYU. The day when this movie was playing for the last time, the cinema was packed. If you ever have the need to be truly inspired, I recommend this movie. This movie led me to read the book. And even though I had tests, homework and work, I made the time to read this book in two days. I could not put it down.
This is the story of Li Cunxin, one of the greatest ballet dancers of China. Despite how poor his family was, Li was chosen to be part of Madame Mao’s Dance Academy. He worked really hard in China for 7 years and became famous when he came to the USA. It is a true story.
In this post, I am only going to share 10 of my favorite parts of the book and what they mean to me:
- “Write down your achievements, mistakes, discoveries, even the combination of dance steps, every day in your diary" – Advice given to Li by one of his most admired ballet teachers. I believe that if we would do this in regards of anything we are pursuing we could learn a lot.
- "Great things do not come easily" “Nothing comes easily. There are no shortcuts. Things only come when one works for them." We all know this- there is nothing more to say about this.
- "I responded well to gentle encouragement" (This is me)
- "I slowly moved from the back of the class to the front." – This is Li after he figured out his love for dancing. I believe we can do this once we learn to do something with passion.
- "We were starved for knowledge." – I love this phrase. This is young Li speaking.
- "Cunxin, you are privileged. You are lucky. Go forward. Don't be afraid and don't look back. There is nothing back there, only your family's unconditional love that will always propel you forward." Now for the first time, this voice wasn't my brother's voice. It wasn’t my dia's (father in Chinese). It was not my beloved niang's (mother in Chinese). This voice was my OWN.” – I love this! This is Li when he was leaving from China to the USA the second time and he did not know when he was going to be back. This time it was not his professors, brother, parents encouraging him to achieve his dream, this time it was his own voice!
- "Cuxin, nothing is impossible for a determined human being. Physical imperfections are easier to overcome than mental deficiencies. Remember the archer fable? Nothing is impossible if you put your heart and soul into it! Let's make your family proud! Become the greatest you can be! Starting next year I do not expect anything less from you. Hard work, determination, and perseverance. Don't let any outside influences pull you off track. I do not want you to be the best at your class. I want you to be the best in the world." – It says enough for itself.
- "Have your country in your heart and the world in your vision" – Li was told this by one of his teachers.
- "The dream I had once been too afraid to dream had at last come true." – I love this! We need all to say this ourselves!
- “The rode I had traveled so far had had so many detours. Nothing had been smooth or easy. I knew the road ahead would not be smooth or easy either, but the possibilities are so vast. The pursuit of my dreams, the determination to achieve them, had given me a miraculous career and an enchanted life. No matter what lay ahead or behind, I had the love of my life (his wife), my niang (mother), mi dia (father), and my brothers.”
I cannot express how much I loved this book. My best friend and I have often talked about China and its beauty. Each culture has its own splendor and this book adds to the one of China.