The Embroidery Girls Principal dancer: Zhang Yashu

Zhang Yashu is a genuine dance superstar in China being one of the most recognisable and beloved dancers of her generation.

Although not yet widely known to UK audiences, Zhang Yashu – The first principal Feamle Dancer of Wuxi Song & Dance Theatre, is one of China’s best-known contemporary and classical dancers and a popular TV celebrity.

Image of ZHANG YASHU and supporting dancers in fire and ice spirit costumes for Chinese New year TV apperance

Jiangsu TV Chinese NewYear Gala


 Among many widely celebrated achievements, she was a highly popular runner-up in the Chinese version of the TV show “So you think you can dance” and has starred in several Film, TV and Theatre roles,  recently completing shooting for the upcoming dance film Red River Valley. Her most recent TV appearance was headlining the gala festivities for Jiangsu TV’s Chinese new year 2108 celebrations.  As one of China’s most exciting dancers and upcoming choreographers,  she is also A TED china fellow.

The famous Dance judge Jinxing (金星) was captivated by her snakelike dance in White Snake and Green Snake and choreographed a dance called “Wind” specifically for Zhang. Her TV performance of “Wind” became one of the standout dance performances of recent memory, demonstrating her astounding variety and consummate technical skill.

Since then, she has become one of  ‘Jinxing’s favourite muses and has received a popular nickname, “The Snake Seductress”.


Since her breakout starring role as a Principal dancer in the grand folk dance drama Xi Shi to wide acclaim in 2007, Zhang Yashu’s star has continued to rise.  

Zhang Yashu in Xi Shi


Zhang Yashu in red intricate Chinese dress for the Embroidery Girl

Zhang Yashu as the Embroidery Girl

She has developed a distinctive style, giving a series of technically beautiful yet emotionally resonant stand out performances that have set the benchmark in  a wide range of challenging and diverse dance roles ( pas de deux Mingfeng,Black Wing and Moonlight, Jasmine, Red river valley, The flowers war, Nine Coloured Deer, etc) .


 Her approach to dance has been described by leading Chinese theatre critics as combining a heady mix of dynamic technical excellence and rich emotional sensitivity.

Zhang is renowned for bringing a spiritual sensuousness and depth to her roles that has wowed audiences both in China and the West.  Zhang is the first Chinese female dancer to appear at The Kennedy Center Opera House,  where she performed her portrayal of the Embroidery girl for the first time to an enraptured US audience.  


Having both starred in contemporary and classical pieces to high acclaim she is passionately committed to the art of physical 

expression through dance in all its’ forms.  Her performances demonstrate a rarely seen combination of sophisticated intelligence,  tenacious technical mastery and soulful emotional feel. In her own words, She loves dancing and wishes nothing more than to dance her whole life long; having seen her perform on numerous occasions we can only hope her dreams come true.


Prizes and Awards

Zhang Yashu has won many prizes in national, provincial and municipal competitions. She won the gold prize in the 7th Peach Cup national dance competition in 2003, the bronze medal in the 6th national dance competition in 2004, the Excellent Performer’s Award in the 5th Lotus Cup national dance competition, a  top ten performance in the 2nd China Dance Festival, top ten performers in the 4th CCTV Dance Competition in 2007, Special Jury Prize in the 2nd Lotus Cup in Jiangsu Provincial Young Dancers’ Competition 2009, Excellent Performer’s Award for her performance in The Embroidery Girl in the 7th Jiangsu Provincial Music and Dance Festival, Jiangsu Provincial Cultural Award for Performing Artists in 2013, Runner-up in China’s Best Dance competition in 2014, and Champion in Sino-American Dance Competition in 2014.  


 Both of Zhang Yashu’s  parents are dancers.

She started dancing age  7 then attended the Sichuan Dance College for 6 years. During this period, she won Golden Medals at the renowned Beijing Dance Competition the Tao-Li Cup. She was recruited into the prestigious Wuxi Song and Dance Institute after her graduation and became one of the institute’s principal dancers, and has starred in a number of grand dance dramas, including Xishi Beauty; Jasmine; and of course The Embroidery Girl.

In 2014, she participated in the Chinese version of the internationally successful  TV  dance competition “So You Think You Can Dance” (中国好舞蹈), where in  a close run final she achieved 2nd place.  

She is recognised throughout China as one of her generation’s leading lights,  as a dancer and latterly as a choreographer and producer in her own right (Nine-Coloured Deer).

Four of the dancers from Zhang Yashu’s Nine coloured Deer.

Zhang Yashu’s: Nine-coloured Deer

Zhang’s performances typically employ her unique gifts at utilising face and form to give voice to her character’s deepest feeling through movement alone.  She is able to express complex and deeply felt emotion like few other dancers, employing a rare combination of traditional and contemporary elements to bring to life a diverse cast of characters in a complex and highly acclaimed repertoire. We think that UK audiences will have a treat in store when she reprises her celebrated role in the revisioned version of The Embroidery girl this spring.

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