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Destined to Dance

CHINESE-AUSTRALIAN FORMER ballet dancer Li Cunxin’s iconic biography, Mao’s Last Dancer, is reimagined in a heart-warming performance for little and big kids alike in Darwin and Alice Springs this month.

By Jenna Hoare

The Peasant Prince, presented by the Monkey Baa Theatre Company, is set to captivate audiences in an award-winning show travelling for the first time to the NT. Follow the journey of a 10-year-old boy who was hand-picked out of millions of children from rural China to represent his country on the world stage.

Artistic Director of Monkey Baa Theatre Company, and co-writer of The Peasant Prince, Eva Di Cesare says it was by chance the three joint owners of the theatre company stumbled upon the picture book while delivering a workshop.

“We knew of Mao’s Last Dancer and Li Cunxin’s adult novel, which is based on his life, but we didn’t know he had also written a children’s picture book version,” says Di Cesare.

“It’s a beautiful book illustrated by Anne Spudvilas. At the time we thought ... what great examples of resilience and following your dreams in a big way. So, we approached Li Cunxin and he was really thrilled with the idea of turning the book into a play for young people.”

Since day one of Cunxin’s involvement, he has continued the journey with Monkey Baa – closely supporting the creative development of the play, which shares his life starting from a village in China to being recognised as one of the best ballet dancers on the international stage.

While the show is aimed at primary school audiences aged seven and up, De Cesare says the team writes to ensure that adults have a good experience throughout the story.

"We write with deep respect, and we always find that adults have just as good of a time ... there are some really funny moments."

Alongside the production, the theatre company rolls out teaching artist workshops with local schools as part of its learning program. Quickly dance along to grab a ticket!

The Peasant Prince

WHEN MON 27 MAY, 6PM | TUE 28 MAY, 9.30AM 
COST $35 | $30 CONC | $25 CHILD 

WHEN FRI 31 MAY | 10AM & 1PM 
COST $28 | $24 CONC $20 CHILD

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