I haven’t been posting much because I’ve been totally engrossed in the book Mao’s Last Dancer, suggested to me by an interviewee for my current non-fiction project. The book is due back to the library on Monday so here are 5 reactions to my reading on a Saturday.
1. My lack of world knowledge never ceases to amaze me. I consider myself well educated and interested in current events and world cultures but there are many things about which I know very little. (mostly Asia)
2. The poverty endured by the Chinese under Mao’s regime is shocking. (This is a pretty distilled statement, of course there are more sophisticated discussions here but it is only a quick list so give me a break.) Let’s just say that the author shows his humor when he points out that Barbara Bush’s dog would certainly be dinner in China.
3. The ethic of work for the good of the communist state and the constant feeling of pride for one’s family pushes Li Cunxin to accomplish at an amazing level of dance in a relatively short period of time and under extremely difficult circumstances. I am awed by his perseverance and tenacity against great odds.
4. The body awareness that Li Cunxin has in order to accomplish various moves is so interesting to me as a wannabee dancer.
5. Li Cunxin defects to America and while Li Cunxin’s story shows the poverty and mindless propaganda of Mao’s regime, it also shines a light on the decadence and huge gap between rich and poor in America. He honors the Bush/Reagan administration for all they did for him, and for ballet. However, I would argue that much of the demise of the American middle class began under their watch in the form of deregulation and “trickle down” economics.