Yuan Yuan Tan

Richard C. Barker Principal Dancer

Yuan Yuan Tan

Yuan Yuan Tan (© Chris Hardy)

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Shanghai, China

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 was born in Shanghai, China, and trained at Shanghai Dancing School and Stuttgart’s John Cranko School. She joined San Francisco Ballet as a soloist in 1995 and was promoted to principal dancer in 1997.

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


Her repertory includes Ashton’s Thaïs Pas de Deux; Balanchine’s Agon, Apollo, Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, Concerto Barocco, “Diamonds,” Prodigal Son, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Symphony in C, Symphony in Three Movements, and Theme and Variations; Duato’s Without Words; Forsythe’s Artifact Suite; Lifar’s Suite en Blanc; Liang’s Distant Cries and Somewhere in Time; MacMillan’s Winter Dreams; Makarova’s (after Petipa) Kingdom of the Shades, Act II from La Bayadère and Paquita; McGregor’s Chroma and Eden/Eden; Ratmansky’s Russian Seasons and Shostakovich Trilogy (Piano Concerto #1); Robbins’ Afternoon of a Faun, Dances at a Gathering, Dybbuk, and In the Night; Tudor’s Gala Performance; and Wheeldon’s After the Rain pas de deux and Polyphonia.


A frequent guest artist, Tan performed with Damian Smith at Hong Kong Ballet’s French May Gala in 2014, and in “Liang/Maliphant/Wheeldon: An Evening Featuring Yuan Yuan Tan and Fang-Yi Sheu” at London’s Sadler’s Wells Theatre in 2013. Also in 2013, she served as a judge for the classical division of the 2nd International Ballet and Choreography Competition in Beijing, China, and performed at the awards ceremony. She performed in an international gala in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2012; headlined “Yuan Yuan Tan and Eight Ballet Stars” in Nara, Japan, in 2003 and “Yuan Yuan Tan and Friends” in Shanghai in 2000; danced in a 2006 charity concert in Shanghai and in Magpie Bridge, a benefit promoting harmony between China and Japan. In December 2008, Tan was featured as Queen of the Snow in the PBS Great Performances broadcast of Tomasson’s Nutcracker, co-produced by San Francisco Ballet and KQED Public Television San Francisco, in association with Thirteen/WNET New York.

Tan received the Excellence Award from The Committee of 100, an elite organization of distinguished Chinese Americans, in 2010. She was named an honorary chair of the Asian Art Museum’s Shanghai Gala in 2010 and a “Hero of Asia” in the Asian edition of Time magazine in October 2004. She was featured in an international GAP ad campaign in 2012 and in Vogue magazine in April 2003. She received The Bud magazine City of Heart award in Shanghai in 2007 and was invited to the White House in 1999. She won a gold medal and the Nijinsky Award at the 1st Japan International Ballet and Modern Dance Competition in 1993 and a gold medal at the 5th International Ballet Competition in Paris in 1992.


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