China Tour Diary: Week 2


The second week of the Company’s 2015 tour to China was spent in Shanghai, performing at the Shanghai International Arts Festival. It was a homecoming for Shanghai native, Yuan Yuan Tan, who was featured in a gala evening that celebrated her 20 years to date with SF Ballet. Here she tells us about the highlights of the final week of the tour.

Monday, October 26
One of the fun things I did in Shanghai was give a lecture at Fudan University’s Center for American Studies. I think it’s so great that most people who attended were students who didn’t know a lot about ballet or dance.

I talked a bit about how most people don’t notice the challenges associated with dancing because ballet seems so effortless. But despite the obstacles, it’s been worth it for me to follow my heart. I encouraged everyone to fight for their passion.


Yuan Yuan Tan giving her lecture at Fudan University

Wednesday, October 28
Somehow I managed to squeeze in a press conference between rehearsals and classes! The theater invited [SF Ballet Artistic Director] Helgi Tomasson, [Executive Director] Glenn McCoy, and me to talk about what the Company’s performances in Shanghai and how I felt about coming back to my hometown. I was so excited to see so many major TV stations in attendance–that means more and more Chinese people are interested in ballet.

After that, I headed to The Bund, the famous waterfront area at the center of the city. It was a beautiful day on the Huangpu River Cruise with amazing views all around. It was a free day for me, which allowed me to rest my body. I was very happy to go on a little getaway, just relaxing and enjoying myself.

Friday, October 31
Tonight we celebrated my 20 year-tenure, with a gala performance showcasing three works that were created on me. I’m glad I had the opportunity to show Shanghai how diverse ballet can be.

Returning to Shanghai to present this gala meant so much to me because it’s where I received most of my training. Shanghai is where I was born and where I first discovered that dancing is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. The city will always have a special place in my heart.

By the way, I got a Christmas tree-sized bouquet of flowers from my old school! It was sent by my classmates from 1992, many of whom attended the shows in Shanghai. My former dance teacher also attended with her students who are aspiring professional dancers. It was fun to see the next generation at the theater.


Yuan Yuan Tan backstage with fellow SF Ballet dancers Vitor Luiz and Tiit Helimets

Sunday, November 1
The entire China tour went so well. The whole company danced beautifully and I couldn’t have asked for more. Multiple curtain calls don’t usually happen in China, so it was a real honor to be called seven times after my final gala performance. It was also very special that Helgi gave me flowers onstage.


Helgi Tomasson presenting Yuan Yuan Tan at her final performance in Shanghai

Now that the tour is over, I’m exhausted and will spend some time relaxing at home. But I can’t relax too long because soon I’ll be headed to Mexico for a guest performance.

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