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Photographer: Chris Hardy

Tan Yuan Yuan Guest Principal Dancer

Tan Yuan Yuan is regarded as the greatest Chinese ballerina of all time. Born in Shanghai, China, trained at Shanghai Dancing School and Stuttgart's John Cranko School. Tan received a Gold Medal and the Nijinsky Award at the 1st Japan International Ballet and Modern Dance Competition (1993), a Gold Medal in the 5th International Ballet Competition in Paris (1992). She joined San Francisco Ballet as a Soloist in 1995 ; just two years later, at the age of 20 she was made the Company’s first ever Chinese Principal Dancer. She has danced lead female roles in 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.

A frequent guest artist, Tan headlined "Yuan Yuan Tan and Eight Ballet Stars", a gala in Nara, Japan (2003), and "Yuan Yuan Tan and Friends Gala" in Shanghai in 2000. Additional honors include an invitation to the White House in 1999 and The Bund magazine City of Heart award in Shanghai in December 2007. She was featured in Vogue magazine in April 2003 and was named one of Asia's Heroes by Time magazine in 2004. Recent guest appearances include a 2006 charity concert in Shanghai and a performance of the full-length ballet Magpie Bridge - a benefit promoting harmony between China and Japan.

Tan Yuan Yuan joined the Hong Kong Ballet in May 2008.