Yuan Yuan Tan


Yuan Yuan Tan


  • Born

    Shanghai, China

  • Training

    Shanghai Dancing School
    John Cranko School

  • San Francisco Ballet

    Joined the Company as a soloist in 1995
    Promoted to principal dancer in 1997
    Appointed Richard C. Barker Principal Dancer in 2012


7 for Eight (originated)

Beads of Memory

Caprice (originated)

Chi-Lin (originated)

Criss-Cross (Schoenberg-Handel movement principal)

Don Quixote (Kitri)

The Fifth Season (originated)

Giselle (Giselle)

Handel—A Celebration

Nanna’s Lied (Nanna)

Nutcracker (Queen of the Snow, Sugar Plum Fairy, and Grand Pas de Deux)

On a Theme of Paganini

Pandora Dance (originated)


Romeo & Juliet (Juliet)

Silver Ladders (originated) 

The Sleeping Beauty (Aurora, Lilac Fairy, and Enchanted Princess)

Swan Lake (Odette/Odile)

Tuning Game (Pas de trois)

Valses Poeticos 



Nutcracker (Sugar Plum Fairy and Snow Queen) 






Thaïs Pas de Deux



Agon (Pas de deux)

Apollo (Terpsichore)

Ballo della Regina 

Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet 


Concerto Barocco


Emeralds (Pas de deux)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Titania)

Prodigal Son (Siren)


Serenade (Waltz couple and Angel)

Stravinsky Violin Concerto (Aria I and II)

Symphony in C

Symphony in Three Movements

Theme and Variations

Scotch Symphony (Sylph)

Western Symphony



Gentle Memories 



Onegin (Tatiana)



Without Words (1st and 2nd pas de deux)



Pas/Parts 2016 (originated)

Artifact Suite



Grand Pas Classique



The Ruins Proclaim The Building Was Beautiful (originated)



Etudes (Principal Woman)



Finding Light (originated)

The Infinite Ocean (originated)

Letting Go

Symphonic Dances (originated)

Distant Cries (Pas de deux)

Somewhere in Time



Suite en Blanc (Pas de deux and Cigarette)



Othello (Desdemona)

… smile with my heart” (“My Funny Valentine”)



Elite Syncopations

Winter Dreams (Masha)


Makarova after Petipa

La Bayadère, Act II (Nikiya and 3rd Solo Shade in “The Kingdom of the Shades”)




The Waltz Project







The Chairman Dances—Quartet for Two



Sylvia (originated the role of Sylvia)



Lady of the Camellias (Black pas de deux)

The Little Mermaid (Mermaid)



Raymonda—Act III (Raymonda)



La Esmeralda (Pas de deux)



Bells (Pas de deux)

Damned (originated role of Princess)

Diving Into the Lilacs (originated)

Firebird (originated role of Firebird)

Fusion (originated)

Magrittomania (originated)

Optimistic Tragedy (Commissary)

RAkU (originated role of Princess) 

Study in Motion (originated)

“… two united in a single soul…” (originated)

Swimmer (originated role of Aquarium)



Russian Seasons (Orange and White)

Chamber Symphony and Piano Concerto #1 in Shostakovich Trilogy



The Cage (Novice)

Dances at a Gathering (Mauve and Pink)


Glass Pieces

In the Night (3rd pas de deux)



Fearful Symmetries (originated)

Hummingbird (originated)



Gala Performance (Italian Ballerina)



La Cathédrale Engloutie



Naked (originated)

Taiko (Spirit)

Tu Tu (originated)



After the Rain (Pas de deux)

Bound To (originated)

Cinderella (Cinderella)

Continuum (originated)

Ghosts (originated)

Number Nine (originated)

Quaternary (originated)





  • Received a 2019 Shanghai Magnolia Silver Award (“bestowed to people who contribute to the development of Shanghai”)
  • Received an Isadora Duncan Dance Award for Outstanding Achievement in Performance for the 2014–15 Repertory Season, 2016.
  • Named one of the world’s most influential Chinese for her contributions to the arts by Phoenix TV, Hong Kong,  2015.
  • Received the 2014 Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Outstanding Female Performance (Classical) for London performance of Yuri Possokhov’s RAkU, 2013. 
  • Received a Dance Magazine award, 2013.
  • Received the Excellence Award from The Committee of 100, an elite organization of distinguished Chinese Americans, 2010.
  • Honorary chair, along with Jennifer Newsom, of Asian Art Museum’s Shanghai Gala, 2010. 
  • Named one of “20 people under the age of 40” considered heroes from Asia, in a cover story by Asian edition of Time Magazine, 2004.
  • Gold medal winner of junior female classical division and Nijinsky Award, 1st Japan International Ballet and Modern Dance Competition, 1993.
  • Gold medal winner of junior female division, 5th International Ballet Competition, Paris, 1992.
  • Silver medal winner of junior female division, 2nd International Ballet Competition, Helsinki, 1991.
  • Danced the pas de deux from Liang’s Finding Light and Possokhov’s Bells at Dance Open Gala, St. Petersburg, Russia, 2017.
  • Danced pas de deux from Petipa’s Swan Lake (Black Swan) and Possokhov’s Bells, Youth America Grand Prix Tribute to Julio Bocca Gala, New York City, 2017.
  • Danced the grand pas de deux from Nutcracker with Festival Ballet Theatre, Irvine, California, 2016.
  • Danced pas de deux from Cranko’s Onegin, Petipa’s Swan Lake (White Swan), and Possokhov’s Bells, Yuan Yuan Tan and Friends Gala, Shanghai, 2016. 
  • Performed Balanchine’s Serenade with Hong Kong Ballet, 2016. 
  • Featured on Hunan TV’s Day Day Up show, 2016. 
  • Participated in TEDxShanghai, speaking both English and Chinese, 2016. 
  • Choreographed and performed Carmen solo, Vail International Dance Festival, Vail, Colorado, 2015.
  • Performed at MEX I AM Ballet and Opera Gala, San Francisco, 2015.
  • Danced Possokhov’s Diving into the Lilacs and Liang’s Distant Cries and Letting Go at the 3rd International Ballet and Choreography Competition Gala, National Beijing,  2015. 
  • Danced at TITAS Command Performance Gala, Dallas, 2015.
  • Performed at Hong Kong Ballet, Le French May Gala, 2015.
  • Performed Swan Lake with Tiit Helimets at Festival Ballet Theatre, Irvine, California, 2015.
  • Performed with Damian Smith at Hong Kong Ballet, Le French May Gala, 2014.
  • Performed in Liang/Maliphant/Wheeldon: An Evening Featuring Yuan Yuan Tan and Fang-Yi Sheu, London, 2013.
  • Served as judge for the classical division of the 2nd International Ballet and Choreography Competition and performed at the awards ceremony, Beijing, 2013.
  • Featured in an international GAP ad campaign, 2012.
  • Performed in an international gala, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 2012.
  • Performed White Swan pas de deux from Swan Lake in Makarova’s Gala, 2012.
  • Performed Black pas de deux from Neumeier’s Lady of the Camellias and the pas de deux from Neumeier’s Mahler’s Fifth Symphony at the 1st International Ballet Competition Gala, Beijing, 2011.
  • Performed Black pas de deux from Neumeier’s Lady of the Camellias at the 37th Nijinsky Gala, Hamburg, Germany, 2011.
  • Performed at The Hong Kong Ballet’s Galaxy Gala, 2011.
  • Performed a solo from Carmen and Bybu at the Arima Ballet Company’s 60th Anniversary Gala, 2010.
  • Performed the pas de deux from Wheeldon’s Ghosts at the Galaxy International Ballet Gala, Hong Kong, 2010.
  • Performed Liang’s Distant Cries, Karlsruhe, Germany, 2009.
  • Performed at the Galaxy International Ballet Gala, Hong Kong, 2009.
  • Performed Swan Lake with The Hong Kong Ballet, Shanghai, 2009.
  • Performed Giselle, Shanghai Grand Theater, Shanghai, 2009.
  • Featured in the role of Queen of the Snow in the PBS Great Performances broadcast of Tomasson’s Nutcracker, 2008.
  • Featured speaker at University of San Francisco Center for the Pacific Rim, Dancing on the Rim: Shanghai to San Francisco, San Francisco, 2006.
  • Performed at Hen Lung Charity Show, Shanghai, 2006.
  • Performed pas de deux from Romeo & Juliet with David Arce as part of the award-winning gala performance, Shanghai.
  • Performed at the award ceremony for the 3rd annual Shanghai International Ballet Competition, 2004. 
  • Performed Act 2 of Giselle and Grand Pas Classique at Gala for Stars from San Francisco, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2003.
  • Performed White Swan Pas de Deux from Swan Lake and Seasons of Life, Osaka, Japan, 2003.
  • Headlined in Yuan Yuan Tan and Eight Ballet Stars Gala performing the Rose Adagio from Possokhov's Magrittomania, The Sleeping Beauty, Dying Swan, and Black Swan from Swan Lake, Nara, Japan, 2003.
  • Competed in World Ballet Star Gala in Korea, performing La Esmeralda pas de deux with Roman Rykine and the White Swan pas de deux from Swan Lake with Paris Opera Ballet Étoile Jose Martinez, 2002.
  • Performed pas de deux from Swan Lake, Act II, and solo from Carmen, choreographed by C. Choong Wanqin for a children’s charity, Malaysia, 2002.
  • Performed with Yuri Possokhov and other SF Ballet dancers, St. Petersburg, Russia, and Tbilisi, Georgia, 2002. 
  • Invited by former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown to a welcome dinner for the vice president of China, 2002.
  • Headlined Yuan Yuan Tan and Friends: an Evening to Remember, a gala performance, Shanghai, 2002.
  • Invited by former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton to dinner at the White House in honor of the Premier of the State Council of China, Zhu Rongji, 1999.
  • Performed at a gala performance in her honor in Shanghai, China in July 1998, with Roman Rykine. Roles included Opening Celebration, Desert, La Esmeralda Pas de Deux, Dream, Act II of Giselle, and Finale.
  • Performed pas de deux from The Sleeping Beauty and Giselle with Roman Rykine with The Hong Kong Ballet, 1998.
  • Performed at the opening night gala for the International Ballet Competition, Nagoya, Japan, 1999.
  • Performed La Esmeralda pas de deux with Roman Rykine at the 12th Japan Ballet Festival, Tokyo, 1998.
  • Performed pas de deux from Tomasson’s Handel—A Celebration at Goldman Environmental Awards, San Francisco,1998.
  • Performed Act II from Swan Lake with The Hong Kong Ballet, 1997.
  • Performed in Bravo China! Celebration at the Hollywood Bowl, broadcast to more than one billion people in China and Hong Kong. Hollyood, 1997.
  • Performed Tomasson’s Pandora Dance at the Asian Art Museum in honor of the Mayor of Osaka’s visit to San Francisco, 1997.
  • Performed La Esmeralda Pas de Deux with Felipe Diaz at The World Stars Gala, Prague, Czech Republic, 1996.


What has been your proudest moment as a dancer? Why?

On tour with SF Ballet in Shanghai and Beijing for my 20th anniversary with the Company. I started my career as a ballet student in Shanghai, so I felt like it had come full circle when I performed again on this momentous occasion, in my home country.

What's your perfect day?

Class, rehearsals, a great performance, and dinner with friends and family to celebrate after the show.

If you weren't a dancer, what would you be?

A fashion designer.