San Francisco Ballet (SF Ballet) enthusiasts, mark your calendars for a night of pure elegance and emotion as Principal Dancer Yuan Yuan Tan bids farewell to the stage on Wednesday, February 14, at 7:30 pm. Yuan Yuan will be gracing the War Memorial Opera House one last time, portraying the role of Marguerite in Sir Frederick Ashton’s Marguerite and Armand.
As the youngest and first Chinese principal dancer in the company's history, Tan's legacy is one of devotion to dance and a passion for creating art that is both elegant and astonishing.“I am indebted to my mentors and teachers, whose wisdom, encouragement, and belief in my potential have been instrumental in my success,” said Ms. Tan. “To my dancer colleagues and collaborators, thank you for the shared moments of triumph.
SF Ballet Artistic Director Tamara Rojo commended Tan's contribution, stating, “Yuan Yuan has made an extraordinary contribution to San Francisco Ballet and to the global community of artists and has inspired generations of ballerinas and audience members. I look forward to following her future endeavors."
Born in Shanghai, Tan joined SF Ballet as a soloist in 1995 and quickly rose to become a principal dancer in 1997. In total, she has been with the company for 29 years, which is very unprecedented in this day in age. Her repertoire includes nearly 100 classical, neoclassical, and contemporary ballets choreographed by renowned artists. Notably, she has portrayed classical characters like Giselle and Aurora, as well as contemporary characters such as the Little Mermaid and Tatiana.
Beyond the stage, Tan has been an international ambassador of ballet, serving as the artistic director and co-choreographer for the Tan Yuan Yuan and Her Friends production in China since 2002. In 2016, she established the Tan Yuan Yuan International Ballet Art Studio, promoting ballet as a popular art form in China and fostering cultural exchange between the United States and China.
Tan's impact extends beyond performances; she has published ballet books, served as a dance instructor, and given lectures globally. Recognized for her contributions, she received the Mayor of San Francisco Art Award on two occasions, in 2018 and 2022, as well as SF Ballet’s inaugural Silver Artists Society award in 2022.
Her influence reaches far and wide, from being the first Asian dancer in the World Star Show in Prague to featuring on TEDxShanghai and appearing on the cover of Time in 2004. Chelsea Clinton even featured Tan in her 2018 children’s book, She Persisted Around the World, celebrating female leaders in various fields.
As Tan gracefully takes her final bow on February 14, let us celebrate the end of an era and the beginning of a new chapter for this iconic ballerina! Tickets for Yuan Yuan Tan’s farewell performance can be purchased online at sfballet.org.
Don't miss the opportunity to witness the culmination of a remarkable career that has left an indelible mark on the world of ballet and continues to inspire generations of artists and enthusiasts alike.