Yuan Yuan Tan


Yuan Yuan Tan


  • Born

    Shanghai, China

  • Training

    Shanghai Dancing School
    John Cranko School

  • Company Membership

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

Yuan Yuan Tan has danced major roles in Tomasson’s Giselle (Giselle), Nutcracker(Sugar Plum Fairy, Grand Pas de Deux Ballerina), Romeo & Juliet (Juliet), The Sleeping Beauty (Aurora), and Swan Lake (Odette/Odile); Tomasson/Possokhov’s Don Quixote (Kitri); Cranko’s Onegin (Tatiana); Lubovitch’s Othello (Desdemona); Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid (Mermaid); and Wheeldon’s Cinderella (Cinderella). She created principal roles in Tomasson’s 7 for Eight, Caprice, Chi-Lin, The Fifth Season, and Silver Ladders; Forsythe’s Pas/Parts 2016; Kudelka’s The Ruins Proclaim the Building Was Beautiful; Liang’s The Infinite Ocean and Symphonic Dances; Morris’ Sylvia (Sylvia); Possokhov’s Damned, Diving into the Lilacs, Firebird, Fusion, Magrittomania, RAkU, Study in Motion, and Swimmer; Scarlett’s Fearful Symmetries and Hummingbird; Welch’s Tu Tu and Naked; and Wheeldon’s Bound To, Continuum, Ghosts, Number Nine, and Quaternary.

Her extensive repertory includes Balanchine’s Agon, Concerto Barocco, Diamonds, Prodigal Son, Serenade, Symphony in C, and Theme and Variations; Forsythe’s Artifact Suite; Liang’s Letting Go; Lifar’s Suite en Blanc; MacMillan’s Winter Dreams; McGregor’s Chroma; Millepied’s The Chairman Dances—Quartet for Two; Possokhov’s Optimistic Tragedy; Ratmansky’s Shostakovich Trilogy; Robbins’ The Cage and Dances at a Gathering; and Wheeldon’s After the Rain Pas de Deux.

Yuan Yuan danced Queen of the Snow in Tomasson’s Nutcracker on PBS’ Great Performances. She was named a “Hero of Asia” by Time (Asian edition) and one of the world’s most influential Chinese by Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV. Her awards include an Isadora Duncan Award for her 2014–15 SF Ballet season and the 2014 Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for her performances in Possokhov’s RAkU.


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 has been your proudest moment as a dancer? Why?

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.