Looking back, which experiences, jobs and personality traits do you think have really helped you? The harsh, poverty-stricken, daily struggle for food experiences of my childhood; the disciplined and tough 7-years of ballet training; the lack of opportunities in the early part of my life in China have taught me the importance of courage, determination, perseverance, work ethic.
What are the most important lessons that your life in dance has taught you? Have passion in what you do, give your 100% every day, be a good learning student, enjoy the process and be patient with success.
Which are your favourite images in this book? The one inside of the front cover: my mother and her seven sons. That photo would have cost around ½ month of my family’s survival. Photos are one of the most exciting and intriguing things in my childhood, mainly is because we could hardly afford this luxury.
What were some of the most important moments when writing this book? Talking to my parents about their childhood and marriage; talking to Teacher Song in Qingdao and Teacher Xiao in Beijing; talking to my friend The Bandit; discussing with Charles Foster (the immigration lawyer) and writing about the Chinese Consulate incident; reflecting on my parents’ arrival to see me dance for the first time; and the inspiration of the book title: ‘Mao’s Last Dancer’.
Which role were you most excited to dance? Prince in Swan Lake.
What was the most challenging event in your life? The night at the Consulate.
What has happened in your life since you wrote this book? A lot! Motivational speaking around the world; publishing the young readers and children’s (picture book entitled: ‘The Peasant Prince’) books; the movie; becoming Artistic Director of Queensland Ballet.
Which is your favourite ballet? Romeo & Juliet.
Can you tell us a bit about your role with the Queensland Ballet? I am in charge of everything artistic: set the company vision and direction, deciding on programs, engaging dancers, teachers, musicians, conductors, choreographers, costumes, scenery and lighting designers, teaching, coaching and rehearsing ballets, overseeing all production matters and plus doing fundraising, plus more…
In what ways is the teaching of the Queensland Ballet different to your Chinese training? I couldn’t be as ruthless as my Beijing Dance Academy teachers were to us. But I have to be as demanding and as strict as I can to produce the next generation of world class dancer.