In 1981, former Houston Ballet principal dancer Li Cunxin (pronounced Lee Shwin Sing) caused an international incident in Houston when he suddenly and unexpectedly defected from China on the eve of his return to the communist country. For a grueling 21 hours, Li was detained at the Chinese consulate in Montrose while Houston immigration lawyer Charles Foster scrambled to negotiate the dancer's stay and the FBI became involved in a tense standoff with Chinese consular officials. It was an event that electrified cultural and political spheres. Li's acclaimed auto-biography, Mao's Last Dancer, moves from his remote peasant upbringing to his tour-de-force performances on downtown Houston stages. The book has been made into a film by Oscar-nominated director Bruce Beresford, which opens August 20. There's a book signing and discussion, presented by the Asia Society, 4 p.m. Sunday at The Junior League of Houston, 1811 Briar Oaks Lane. For information, call 713-439-0051. $5 to $10.
Sat., July 31, 6 p.m., 2010