Mao’s last dancer Li Cunxin continues to serve Queensland Ballet as he takes on the role of artistic director for a second season.

Elisabeth Attwood spoke with Li Cunxin about 2014 and Mao’s last dancer and why he believes the company can rival the best in the world.

Have you enjoyed the past season as artistic director?

This year has been one of the most enriching, exciting and challenging times of my life. I feel inspired to come to work each day. And I’ve been made to feel very welcome by the people of this state. It’s not just the sunny weather!

Why did you decide to accept another year in the role?

I knew this company had a unique spirit. That was one of the reasons that attracted me here.  We are one of the most dynamic and vibrant ballet companies in the world.

What is in store for 2014?

We will bring you the best ever the company has offered. It is a very exciting year for us. The dancers are excited. They know it will be challenging but I think they will rise up to that challenge. The ballets we are performing include Coppelia, Romeo & Juliet, a mixed program called Flourish and The Nutcracker.

Is it true that Queensland Ballet is to perform a world premiere next year?

Coppelia is a brand-new production choreographed by Greg Horsman. We are working in collaboration with the West Australian Ballet, which I hope will be the first of many more collaborations to come.

Which guest dancers will Queensland Ballet welcome this year?

One of the most successful Australian dancers, Steven McRae, will perform the role of Lord Capulet in Romeo and Juliet alongside Tamara Rojo and Carlos Acosta.

That’s another first for the company, isn’t it?

We are honoured to be the first company in Australia to present Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s version of the ballet.  It is a major coup and a huge honour for Queensland Ballet to perform it and it will be one of the biggest undertakings of the company’s history.