Xiao Nan Yu

Principal Dancer

Xiao Nan Yu View Gallery


Xiao Nan Yu was born in Dalian, China and trained at the Shen Yang School of Dance and the Beijing Dance Academy in China and Canada’s National Ballet School. She joined The National Ballet of Canada in 1996 and was promoted to Principal Dancer in 2001.

Ms. Yu has danced principal roles in many of the classical and contemporary works in the company’s repertoire including Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Giselle, Onegin, The Winter’s Tale, Le Petit Prince, The Merry Widow, A Month in the Country, Pinocchio, Cinderella, Madam Butterfly, Nijinsky and Anna Karenina. She has an extensive George Balanchine repertoire, including Apollo, Serenade, Theme and Variations, The Four Temperaments, Symphony in C and Diamonds and Rubies from Jewels. Ms. Yu has created roles in works by James Kudelka, Aszure Barton, Matjash Mrozewski, Jean-Pierre Perreault and Dominique Dumais.

"Xiao Nan Yu was the definitive Hanna, as was Karen Kain 20 years ago."
The National Post

As a guest artist, Ms. Yu has performed with The Hamburg Ballet and Hong Kong Ballet and was invited to perform with Stars of the 21st Century in Toronto.

Ms. Yu was awarded the Gold Medal at the Tao Lee Cup Ballet Competition in China and the Silver Medal at the All Japan International Ballet Competition. In 2018, Ms. Yu was the recipient of the Rolex Dancers First Award for her role as Paulina in The Winter’s Tale. In 2009, she won the Outstanding Profile – Arts, and Best of the Best Awards at the Mandarin Profile Awards in Toronto. In 2002, she was the winner of the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto’s 21st Century Youth of the Year Award.

Quick Facts

Born: Dalian, China 
Trained: Shen Yang School of Dance and the Beijing Dance Academy in China and Canada’s National Ballet School
Joined: 1996
Principal Dancer since: 2001


“Principal Dancer Xiao Nan Yu triumphed yet again with a heart-wrenchingly powerful portrayal of the lovelorn Tatiana that drew a deafening ovation from an enthusiastic Four Seasons Centre audience.” 
— Toronto Star

Swan Lake
“The enormously gifted Xiao Nan Yu glistens like a white and later black diamond in the dual role of Odette/Odile. There’s an intensely emotional, haunting quality to her Odette and she dances with the maturity of a seasoned artist, displaying silky-smooth control throughout.”
— National Post

The Winter's Tale
“Serenely bringing order out of chaos is Xiao Nan Yu’s Paulina, Hermione’s faithful friend and constant defender. Yu’s projection of stoic nobility and moral uprightness is deeply moving”
— Toronto Star