Show and Tell: Inside Yuan Yuan Tan’s Dance Bag

Some of the items in San Francisco Ballet principal Yuan Yuan Tan’s dance bag show that she’s a serious, analytical artist. She reads a few lines from her book of Chinese philosophy before every performance. “It explains complicated ideas in very few words,” she says. “It calms me and helps me focus.” And she’s always making thoughtful entries in her journal—a “merde” gift from Hamburg Ballet principal Lloyd Riggins, who danced with her in SFB’s The Little Mermaid. “I like to record the little breakthroughs I have,” she says.

But as serious as she is about her dancing, she doesn’t seem to take herself too seriously. The cute little bag with a Paris-themed print, which houses her sewing kit—a designer find? Nope. “It’s a freebie from Cathay Pacific Airways,” she says. “On the way over to France they give you a red one, and on the way back a black one!” The Frederic Malle “Dans Tes Bras” perfume—a gift from a chic friend? Wrong again. “I found it at this tiny, random perfume store near The Frick Collection in New York.” And she’s not toting her stuff in a high-end handbag, either. “It’s just easier to get everything into a backpack,” she says. “I’d rather be practical.”

The Goods

Backpack, tennis ball roller (“It’s just two tennis balls held together with fabric tape—so simple, but great for your lower back and calves), phone with ballerina keychain (“My friend, who made it, says it looks like me!”), iPod, Frederic Malle “Dans Tes Bras” perfume, sewing kit, pointe shoes, Jet Glue, flat shoes, journal, Chinese philosophy book, silver bag with vitamins and supplements, ballet skirt (“It was a gift from my teacher when I was 15 and has become a good luck charm”), legwarmers (“My mom made them—if I ask nicely, she makes me all kinds of pretty things”).

Latest Posts

Left to right: Dance Theatre of Harlem's Daphne Lee, Amanda Smith, Lindsey Donnell and Alexandra Hutchinson in a scene from Dancing Through Harlem. Derek Brockington, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem

Dancers Share Their Key Takeaways After a Year of Dancing on Film

Creating dances specifically for film has become one of the most effective ways that ballet companies have connected with audiences and kept dancers employed during the pandemic. Around the world, dance organizations are finding opportunities through digital seasons, whether conceiving cinematic, site-specific pieces or filming works within a traditional theater. And while there is a consistent sentiment that nothing will ever substitute the thrill of a live show, dancers are embracing this new way of performing.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Alexandra McMaster

Start Your Dance Day With This Delicious Berry Breakfast Crisp Recipe

When it comes to breakfast, I want it to be easy and convenient but still taste delicious. My Berry Breakfast Crisp is just that. You can bake the crisp on the weekend as meal prep, then enjoy it throughout the week cold or warmed in the microwave. It freezes well, too!

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Liam Scarlett with Marianela Nuñez and Ryoichi Hirano during a rehearsal of his Swan Lake at The Royal Ballet. Andrej Uspenski, Courtesy ROH

Choreographer Liam Scarlett Has Died

Over the weekend, news broke that 35-year-old choreographer Liam Scarlett, a former artist in residence at The Royal Ballet, died suddenly at his home in England. "It is with great sadness that we announce the tragic, untimely death of our beloved Liam," Scarlett's family said in a brief statement. "At this difficult time for all of our family, we would ask that you respect our privacy to enable us to grieve our loss."

The cause of death was not disclosed.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks