Yuan Yuan Tan To Take Her Final Bow With San Francisco Ballet
January 13, 2024—San Francisco Ballet yesterday announced that popular principal dancer Yuan Yuan Tan will leave the company following next month's performance of Sir Frederick Ashton's Marguerite and Armand. On January 24 she will dance at the company's Opening Night Gala with former SF Ballet Principal Dancer Tiit Helimets in a selection from Helgi Tomasson's 7 for Eight.
"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. Through collective dedication and hard work we have created a legacy that goes beyond individual accomplishments. Finally, to the San Francisco audiences over the last three decades, I express my sincere thanks. Your belief in me has been a driving force, and I am grateful for the inspiration you have provided. As I reflect on the years gone by and enter the next stage of my career, I am reminded of the importance of contributing to the growth and success of others and inspired to continue making a positive impact in ballet and beyond."
SF Ballet Artistic Director Tamara Rojo said, "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."
A native of Shanghai, China, Tan joined SF Ballet as a soloist in 1995. In 1997 she was promoted to principal dancer, the youngest and first Chinese principal dancer at San Francisco Ballet. Tan's performances have included classical roles such as Giselle, Aurora, and Odette/Odile, and contemporary characters such as the Little Mermaid, Tatiana, and the Princess (RAkU).
In addition to her position with San Francisco Ballet, Tan has worked to promote the art of ballet in China and U.S. — China relations, including as the artistic director and co-choreographer for the Tan Yuan Yuan and Her Friends production in China, and establishing the Tan Yuan Yuan International Ballet Art Studio in partnership with the Shanghai Theater Academy, dedicated to building a community of ballet exchange, creation, teaching, and performance. These efforts resulted in SF Ballet's first two tours to China, in 2009 and 2015. She has authored ballet books; served as a dance instructor training children, adults, professionals, and amateurs; and given numerous lectures and seminars on ballet globally.
Tan was featured on a 2004 cover of Time as a "Hero of Asia." In 2015 she was named one of the world's most influential Chinese people for her contribution to the arts by Hong Kong's Phoenix TV and received the "You Bring Charm to the World" award from HKSTV in 2017. In 2018 she appeared on the Chinese cultural program The Reader. Tan was featured in Chelsea Clinton's 2018 children's book She Persisted Around the World. Also in 2018, Tan was immortalized as one of the iconic Barbie dolls in Mattel's Barbie Global Role Model series, costumed as Odette in Swan Lake.
The announcement of Tan's departure makes no mention of why she has decided to leave the company at this time nor what endeavors she will take on next.
Tan will take her final bow with San Francisco Ballet on Wednesday, February 14 dancing the role of Marguerite in Sir Frederick Ashton's Marguerite and Armand at the War Memorial Opera House. For tickets see sfballet.org.