Yuanyuan Tan

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This is a Chinese name; the family name is Tan.
Yuanyuan Tan
Yuan yuan b w.jpg
Born Shanghai, China
Current group San Francisco Ballet
Yuanyuan Tan poster in front of San Francisco City Hall.
Yuanyuan Tan after diving into Lilacs.

Yuanyuan Tan (born in Shanghai in 1974, simplified Chinese: 谭元元; traditional Chinese: 譚元元; pinyin: Tán Yuányuán; is a principal dancer with the San Francisco Ballet. She entered Shanghai Dance School at the age of 11. Initially her father opposed this, as he wanted her to become a medical doctor. Her mother, however, was very supportive. Her fate was settled by a coin toss - the coin landed on heads and Yuan Yuan Tan started her dancing career.[1]

She won multiple international awards at an early age; including a gold medal and the Nijinsky Award at the 1st Japan International Ballet and Modern Dance Competition (1993) and a gold medal in the 5th International Ballet Competition in Paris (1992). At age 18, she became a soloist dancer with the San Francisco Ballet Company. Two years later, in 1997, at age 20, she was promoted to principal dancer, attaining the highest position for a ballet dancer, an unusually rapid upward path.[2] She was at that time the youngest principal dancer ever in the history of the San Francisco Ballet company. Today, she is a marquee name for the company, while San Francisco Ballet Company itself is widely considered to be among the best in the world and in the words of choreographer Mark Morris, the "best company in North America".[3]

She has danced lead female roles in Helgi Tomasson's Giselle, Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, Nutcracker, Tomasson/Possokhov's Don Quixote, Morris' Sylvia, and Lubovitch's Othello. She created roles in Tomasson's The Fifth Season, Chi-Lin, Silver Ladders, and 7 for Eight, Possokhov's Magrittomania, Damned, and Study in Motion, Wheeldon's Continuum and Quaternary, and Welch's Tu Tu. Her repertory includes Ashton's Thaïs Pas de Deux, Balanchine's Symphony in C, Theme and Variations, Concerto Barocco, Prodigal Son, and Apollo, Duato's Without Words, Robbins' In the Night, Dances at a Gathering, and Dybbuk, and Makarova's Paquita.[4]

Her fame is much greater in China, as she is the most critically acclaimed Chinese ballet dancer ever, and the only Chinese ballet dancer to reach the rank of principal dancer at a major international ballet company. She has been featured in the Chinese versions of Vogue, Esquire, and Tatler. Currently she is also a brand ambassador for Van Cleef & Arpels and Rolex.[5]


  1. ^ "The Perfect Poise of Yuanyuan Tan" CNN, June 25, 2008.
  2. ^ "SF Ballet" SF Ballet Dancer Page
  3. ^ "San Francisco Chronicle Jan 08, 2005" SF Chronicle
  4. ^ "Yuanyuan Tan" HK Ballet Guest Principal Dancer
  5. ^ "rolex ambassadors" Rolex

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