Artist Spotlight: Yuan Yuan Tan, Principal Dancer at the San Francisco Ballet

March 9, 2021

The Little Mermaid is about to hit the stage at the San Francisco Ballet but it’s not quite the same as the Disney cartoon that we’re all familiar with. Kari Lincks Coomans, host of Red Curtain Addict recently sat down for lunch with Yuan Yuan Tan (Principal Dancer at the San Francisco Ballet) to find out what makes this production unique and why this is a must-see performance for Bay Area locals.

Click below to WATCH our exclusive interview that was featured on KPIX CBS, Bay Area Focus…!

What It Means to be the Principal Dancer at the San Francisco Ballet

Yuan Yuan Tan has been performing with the San Francisco Ballet for the past 24 years and has been a Principal Dancer for 23 or those years.

In case you’re not familiar with the term, a Principal Dancer in the leading role/character of the ballet. For example, Cinderella, The Mermaid, Giselle, etc. Let’s just say, it’s a big deal and a major accomplishment. And the crazy part is, Yuan Yuan was promoted to a Principal Dancer at the San Francisco Ballet at only 19 years old…!

Yuan Yuan has performed hundreds of performances including The Little Mermaid back in 2011. “This ballet will make you go back home and think and you’ll even maybe want to go back and watch it again… it’s visually stunning,” said Yuan Yuan. But this beautiful performance and exciting role as the Mermaid come with a few challenges, including her costume. During the first part of the performance, Yuan Yuan wears long pants to represent her mermaid tail.

Hamburg Ballet Director John Neumeier made the pants double the length of her legs so that when she’s carried, the fabric can be stretched and held in such a way to look like a fishtail. “It’s very challenging to wear these pants and to not trip because the material is very slippery. I just have to hope during each performance that I don’t slip or trip,” said Yuan Yuan.

Yuan Yuan Tan and Kari Lincks Coomans share a bite at ALX

During our cocktails and bites, Yuan Yuan talked about the storyline of the ballet. We found out that this is not your Disney happy-go-lucky fairytale. Rather, it is based on the original story created by Hans Christian Anderson back in 1837 that’s about the ultimate sacrifice for love. You can read more about the original story here. Although there are a few fun similarities, we recommend that audiences are ages 12+.

Fabulous Cocktails and Tasty Bites in San Francisco

All of our bites that Yuan Yuan and Kari ate were provided by ALX by Alexander Steakhouse. Our favorite way to experience the restaurant is by starting with one of their crafted cocktails paired with one of their tasty appetizers. The staff and crew are so much fun and out-of-this-world talented. We promise you, you’re going to love any of the bites that Chef Jessie makes – she’s amazing. Plus, this is a pre-show dinner spot because it’s only about 2 miles away from the War Memorial Opera House!

What are some of your favorite restaurants in the city? What other performances and shows are you looking forward to in the Bay Area?

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