Dance Magazine Award Spotlight: Yuan Yuan Tan

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Yuan Yuan Tan and Damian Smith in Tomasson's The Fifth Season. Photo ©Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB

In our 2009 cover profile of the utterly gorgeous Yuan Yuan Tan, Christopher Wheeldon spoke about the San Francisco Ballet principal: "YY's physical gifts are exceptional, and like any great dancer, she has a distinct perfume. But she's also an artist who can transcend those physical attributes." Wheeldon might have a similar sentiment on the evening of December 9, when he will present Tan with a 2013 Dance Magazine Award


Tan is one of those dancers who transcends the field. From portraits in Vogue to a style feature in W magazine, she's recognized by more than just balletomanes. Who could forget her famous extension plastered everywhere thanks to Gap's ad campaign last winter?


Gap YYTan
Posing for Gap.
Photos by Jenny Gage and Tom Betterton


Of course, Tan has also been a force in the dance world for more than 20 years, inspiring countless dancers worldwide. Take a look at this highlight reel from San Francisco Ballet. While each clip is way too short, you'll see a smidgen of her immense versatility.



One of Tan's signature parts is the title role in John Neumeier's The Little Mermaid. The ballet was a huge hit when it was broadcast as part of PBS' "Great Performances" series and viewers nationwide were astounded by Tan's talent. (In case you missed it, it's reairing December 16, or click here to see the full program online.) In this video, Tan discusses preparing for the ballet and getting into character. It's almost impossible not to fall in love with her.



Is she not the pinnacle of ballet beauty?


Matthew Karas
Tan in costume for Tomasson's 7 for Eight.
Photo by Matthew Karas for Dance Magazine.


And because it's Friday, and we could all use some extra steam to get us through the last hours before the weekend, a bonus: Watch Tan in Wheeldon's After the Rain, performed with Damian Smith at the Fire Island Dance Festival. I suggest grabbing a tissue before you hit play.



The 2013 Dance Magazine Awards, honoring Philip Glass, Martha Clarke, Mats Ek, Patricia Wilde and Yuan Yuan Tan, will be held December 9 at the  The Ailey Citigroup Theater in NYC. The ceremony is open to the public with a reception immediately following. Tickets are available for $50; contact Ashley Mathus at 212-979-4872 or

The awards ceremony at The Ailey Citigroup Theater in NYC is open to the public with a reception immediately following. Tickets are available for $50; contact Ashley Mathus at 212-979-4872 or - See more at: Dance Magazines