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Li Cunxin and Marc Brew show Indonesia what Australian ballet is all about

Li Cunxin showing an Indonesian ballet student how to hold her arm correctly for a performance.
Artistic director of Queensland Ballet Li Cunxin during his masterclass in Jakarta.

ABC: Nurina Savitri

When a car accident left Australian dancer Marc Brew paralysed at the age of 20, he didn't let that stop him from travelling the world and flourishing in his chosen career.

This week he joined artistic director of Queensland Ballet Li Cunxin in Jakarta for the second Indonesian Ballet Gala.

The event was Brew's first performance in Indonesia, after working in the UK for the past 20 years.

Marc Brew smiling towards the camera.
Marc Brew wowed Indonesian crowds during the second Indonesian Ballet Gala in Jakarta.

ABC: Nurina Savitri

From his wheelchair, he impressed the crowd with a personal dance he choreographed shortly after his accident, called Remember When.

"It's very intimate. It's very reflective," Brew said.

"It's nice to revisit older work of mine."

The gala featured other artists with disabilities, including Magali from France, Candoco Dance Company from the UK, and some local Indonesian dancers.

Brew wants to encourage others who are unsure about their talent or who want to develop their dancing skills but don't know how.

"I think it's about finding opportunities, and I know that can be sometimes limited," Brew said.

A silhouette of Marc Brew in his wheelchair during his performance of 'Remember When'.
Marc Brew during his performance of 'Remember When'.

Photo supplied by Ballet ID

Mariska Febriyani helped to organise the gala, and said she was inspired by Unlimited Festival in Glasgow, where she met a lot of international artists who also had disabilities.

"They possess a high level of work ethic so we won't see that they're actually disabled," Ms Febriyani said.

Mao's last dancer inspires new generation

Li Cunxin last performed in Jakarta 31 years ago, and came back to hold a special masterclass for Indonesian ballerinas.

"I think the interest, the enthusiasm has certainly grown," he said.

He believes a well-developed curriculum must be established to help the Indonesian ballet scene grow.

"I feel the talents in dancing here, but I think the training system probably needs to be gradually developed."

Li Cunxin jumping in the air in front of a group of Indonesian ballet students.
Li Cunxin shows Indonesian ballet students how it's done.

ABC: Nurina Savitri

The Australian Embassy in Jakarta has been supporting the cultural event for two years.

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