Mary Li (formerly Mary McKendry) started her dance training in Queensland at the age of eight. She successfully completed the RAD Solo Seal Award in Australia and continued her training at the Royal Ballet School in London. Mary joined the London Festival Ballet (English National Ballet) in 1977 and was promoted through the ranks to Principal Dancer in 1981. In 1985, Mary joined Houston Ballet as a Principal Dancer.
During her performing career, Mary danced principal roles in all the major classical ballets, such as Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Don Quixote, Onegin, Les Sylphides and La Sylphide. She also danced leading roles in contemporary ballets and many new ballets were created on her. She has worked with legendary teachers, choreographers, artistic directors and artists, including Rudolf Nureyev, Glen Tetley, Christopher Bruce, Margot Fonteyn, Ben Stevenson and many others. Mary and her husband Li Cunxin have danced together all over the world.
Since retiring from dancing in 1992, Mary has been invited to teach and coach in many international ballet companies. She has been a teacher and coach at The Australian Ballet for the past 10 years, and joined Queensland Ballet’s Artistic Staff as Ballet Mistress in January 2013.