Zhu Yan joined National Ballet of China in 1995 after graduating from Beijing Dance Academy. As Prima Ballerina, she has danced various leading roles in the most of the full length ballets in NBC, including Raise the Red Lantern, Red Detachment of Women, Peony Pavilion, The Butterfly Lovers as well as Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, Le Corsaire, Giselle, La Sylphide, The Nutcracker, The Fountain of Tears, Sylvia, La Bayadere (ACT III), Paquita (ACT III), John Cranko's Romeo and Julie, Onegin and Roland Petit's Carmen, Le Jeune Homme Et La Morte, Pink Floyd Rock Ballet, William Forsythe's In the Middle Somewhat Elevated, Uwe Scholz's Beethoven 7th Symphony. She has also danced all principal roles in many Balanchine ballets. Her contemporary repertoire includes Rite of Spring, The Four Last Songs, Etudes as well as and others.
She has won awards at major international ballet competitions including the Special Award at the 6th Paris International Ballet Competition (1994), and the Gold Medal and Special Prize for Artistic Performance of Mrs. President of Bulgaria at the 18th Varna International Ballet Competition (1998).