Prima Perfection: Yuan Yuan Tan

SFB's Yuan Yuan Tan dreams of skydiving and still works on her feet.
Published in the December 2010/January 2011 issue.

Tan in Yuri Possokhov's "Diving Into the Lilacs"

Photo by Chris Hardy

You have been at San Francisco Ballet for 15 years. How do you feel your dancing has changed or improved?

I feel I am more myself these days. There was something bottled up in me that needed to come out emotionally. It wasn’t just the steps. Surprisingly, the process is still happening.

 

What qualities in your dancing do you feel you still must work on?

The articulation of the foot.

 

If you could change one thing about your body, what would it be?

My knees. They’re too big in proportion to the rest of my body.

 

What is the least glamorous aspect of being a ballet dancer?

Repeating things over and over again in the studio. There’s nothing glamorous about it. We just try to be better, to prepare and repair ourselves.

 

What skill would you like to have that you don’t possess now?

I want to be freer on stage. I try not to worry about technique or that the music is too fast or too slow.

 

Do you suffer from stage fright?

I do. I deal with it by practicing before the performance and meditating a bit.

 

If you were not a dancer, what would you like to be?

A fashion designer.

 

What is your favorite food?

Chocolate. Dark chocolate.

 

What is your greatest indulgence?

Basically, it’s what I can’t do as long as I am dancing. I want to go skydiving and to drive very fast.

 

Do you have any pre-performance rituals?

I pray.

 

How would you like to be remembered?

If an audience thinks my dancing was beautiful, that is enough.