Mr Li Cunxin AO



Mr Li Cunxin AO is a distinguished Chinese-Australian ballet dancer, author, business person and Artistic Director of the Queensland Ballet. He is recognised in Australia and globally for his exceptional contributions to the world of ballet and the performing arts.

Mr Li’s journey from a rural village in China to the global stage has served as an inspiring story, demonstrating the transformative power of the arts. As a dancer, Mr Li displayed an exceptional combination of technical mastery and exceptional artistry, earning him international acclaim.

His performances with the Houston Ballet and the Australian Ballet were distinguished by his ability to convey compelling narratives through movement, capturing the essence of various characters while highlighting the beauty of ballet as an art form.

Mr Li’s autobiography, Mao’s Last Dancer, published in 2003, provided an insight into the rigorous discipline of ballet, while also presenting a compelling personal narrative of resilience, passion and triumph over adversity. The book was recognised with an Australian Book of the Year award and was subsequently adapted into a highly successful feature film.

Beyond his personal achievements as a dancer and author, Mr Li has made an immense contribution to the arts through his role as the Artistic Director of the Queensland Ballet from 2012 to 2023.

His leadership has propelled the company to new heights, cultivating a rich repertoire and fostering the development of young talent. His commitment to philanthropy and community engagement has enabled a broader section of the public to access and appreciate ballet, thereby enriching Australia’s cultural landscape.

Mr Li was named an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours Awards for distinguished service to the performing arts, particularly to ballet, as a dancer and artistic director.

Moreover, Mr Li’s story has served as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring artists. His journey from hardship to international acclaim has underscored the transformative power of the arts and the possibilities they hold for individuals from all walks of life.

Chancellor, I present to you Mr Li Cunxin, Officer of the Order of Australia, Doctor of the University honoris causa of Australian Catholic University and Doctor of the University honoris causa of Griffith University, for the award of Doctor of Letters honoris causa, bestowed by the Senate of The University of Queensland.



Doctor of Letters honoris causa