8/20/10

Mao's Last Dancer

Bruce Beresford is a wonderful director ("Crimes of the Heart," "Driving Miss Daisy," "Tender Mercies," "Paradise Road"), the list goes on and on.... When he uses the word "Dancer" in the title, he knows his audience... and he delivers!

It is so satisfying to watch someone build a skill, whether it be fencing, car racing, or dancing. We come away with a reminder of the blood, sweat, and tears that go into the making a ballet dancer.

There are generous segments of well-known ballets to admire, soaring tour jet├ęs, and a handsome leading man to root for. Three different actors play Li Cunxin: the first as a child in a remote Chinese village, the second as a homesick student in Beijing, and third as an accomplished adult dancer. The adult version is portrayed by Chinese-born Chi Cao, who also trained at Beijing Dance Academy and became the featured dancer at the Birmingham Ballet in 2002.

Bruce Greenwood ("Star Trek," "National Treasure" and "I'm Not There") does a delicious turn as the man behind the Reagan Admin- istration's cultural exchange which brought our hero to Houston and future stardom with the Houston Ballet. Greenwood plays his character with teeny little hints of gay and he convinced ME that he could be a choreographer.

This story is not only true, it contains humor, pathos, romance, glamor, excitement and best of all, lots and lots of ballet! Our screening audience loved it!