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  • Published: 3 November 2020
  • ISBN: 9780143789710
  • Imprint: Viking
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 480
  • RRP: $34.99

Mary's Last Dance

The untold story of the wife of Mao's Last Dancer




Millions fell in love with Mao's Last Dancer. Finally here is Mary's story...

The highly anticipated memoir of Australian ballerina Mary Li – and the long-awaited sequel to her husband Li Cunxin's bestselling memoir, Mao's Last Dancer.Mary’s Last Dance is a powerful and uplifting memoir about chasing an impossible dream, and sacrificing one’s own ambition for the love of a child. It is a moving and unforgettable story of passion, dedication and devotion – and the highly anticipated sequel to one of the world’s most beloved books.

Mary Li (nee McKendry) is an international ballet star and a mother like no other. She became a household name when her husband Li Cunxin published his bestselling memoir, Mao’s Last Dancer – but that book told only half the story.

Growing up in a rambunctious family in Rockhampton, Mary discovered an extraordinary early passion for ballet. It saw her move to London at age sixteen, to study at the Royal Ballet School and dance at the London Festival Ballet with the likes of Nureyev, and later to Houston Ballet, where as Principal Dancer she fell in love with the acclaimed dancer Li Cunxin. The couple became the darlings of the dance world, and were happier than they could have imagined at the arrival of their firstborn daughter, Sophie.

Then right at the height of her international career, Mary seemingly disappeared from view. What could have happened to cause a woman so committed, so talented, to give it all away in a heartbeat? Now, almost twenty years on, we learn what happened next to this inspiring family, and why it is Mary’s turn to tell a truly remarkable tale.

  • Published: 3 November 2020
  • ISBN: 9780143789710
  • Imprint: Viking
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 480
  • RRP: $34.99

About the author

Mary Li

Mary Li (formerly Mary McKendry) was raised in Rockhampton, Queensland, the third of eight children. She was first introduced to ballet by her teacher Valeria Hansen. At sixteen she was accepted into the Royal Ballet School, London. She joined the London Festival Ballet (English National Ballet) in 1977 and was promoted through the ranks to principal dancer in 1981. In 1985, Mary joined Houston Ballet as a principal dancer. During her performing career, Mary danced principal roles in all the major classical ballets, including Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Romeo and Juliet and The Nutcracker, as well as leading roles in contemporary ballets, some created especially for her. She has worked with legendary teachers, choreographers, artistic directors and artists, including Rudolf Nureyev, Margot Fonteyn and Ben Stevenson. She married fellow principal dancer Li Cunxin in 1987, and they have danced together all over the world. Following their return to Australia in 1995 Mary worked with the Australian Ballet as a coach, while raising their children Sophie, Tom and Bridie. For the past ten years she has been ballet mistress at Queensland Ballet where her husband Li is artistic director. Together they have turned the company into one of worldwide recognition and acclaim.

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