#TBT: Yuan Yuan Tan and José Martínez in "Swan Lake" (2002)

June 24, 2020

Yuan Yuan Tan and José Martínez both left their respective homes in China and Spain as teens to join top ballet companies. Tan was quickly made a principal at San Francisco Ballet and Martínez rose to étoile at the Paris Opéra Ballet, both becoming sought-after performers for galas and guesting around the world. In this clip from the 2002 World Ballet Stars Gala in South Korea, the pair dances the White Swan pas de deux from Swan Lake with singular elegance and magnetic stage presence.

Martínez, who went on to direct Spain’s Compañia Nacional de Danza from 2011–2019, brings princely refinement to the role of Siegfried and supports Tan with effortless grace. Meanwhile Tan delves into the drama of Odette, fluttering off balance and luxuriating in her extreme range of motion. Her arms ripple like liquid, and her bourrées tremble to the yearning notes of the violin. While international jet-setting in ballet is on hold for now, this performance reminds us of the thrill of bringing world-class performers together to collaborate. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!