In an uplifting tale of determination and passion, a 63-year-old Chinese sanitation worker named Liu Ziqing has become an internet sensation for pursuing his dream of learning ballet. With no prior experience in ballet, Liu began his dance journey ten years ago at the age of 53. Today, he shares the stage with young, professional dancers, captivating audiences with his graceful performances.
Liu’s fascination with ballet dates back to his childhood when he watched the film “The Red Detachment of Women,” a popular ballet movie, more than ten times. Growing up in a financially challenged family near Baotou, in China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region, Liu could not afford to learn ballet. Despite the hurdles, his love for the art form never waned. He spent his early years as a farmer and later as a street cleaner, but his dream of dancing ballet remained alive.
A decade ago, Liu’s passion was reignited when he came across a ballet basic training course on television. He began practicing in various settings, including farmlands, roadsides, and his home yard. To improve his strength, Liu sometimes slept in a leg press position. Although his neighbors often questioned his pursuit, calling him mad for learning ballet at his age, Liu remained undeterred. He found immense joy and a sense of fulfillment in dancing, which also brought significant health benefits, including alleviating his long-standing stomach issues.
Liu’s family has been supportive of his endeavor, offering encouragement and understanding. His dedication to ballet led him to attend classes at Baotou Normal University, where he immersed himself in learning alongside much younger students. Liu’s presence in the class, marked by his genuine enjoyment and ever-present smile, deeply moved his teacher, Shi Jianxing, who admired Liu’s passion for ballet.
Stories like Liu’s, where individuals chase their dreams against all odds, often capture the hearts of people in China. His journey resonates particularly in a society where artistic pursuits are often seen as a luxury. Liu’s story is a powerful reminder that it’s never too late to pursue one’s passions. His unwavering commitment to ballet not only challenges societal norms about age and occupation but also serves as an inspiration to many, proving that with determination and hard work, dreams can become a reality, regardless of one’s age or background.