Article from the FT as a new book is published.
It's a true rags-to-tights story. As a child Li Cunxin spent years just one scavenged meal short of starvation, dressed in clothes pieced together from scraps by his mother when she was not working in the fields. MORE
Yet by the time he was 38, he had forged a career as one of the world's foremost ballet dancers with top choreographers clamouring to work with him; he was on first-name terms with George and Barbara Bush, and was able to act as an unofficial ambassador for China despite a very public and embarrassing defection almost two decades earlier.