Cao Dan was born in Guangzhou in 1972. She studied Fine Arts at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts and Anthropological Filmmaking at the Paris Higher Education Experiment College. She has worked as a painter, filmmaker, and designer in both China and France. She is currently the executive publisher of LEAP magazine and The Art Newspaper (China).
Cao Dan is the executive Director of LEAP magazine, which is a bilingual magazine showcasing contemporary art in China. Published six times a year in Chinese and English, it presents a diverse and comprehensive coverage of contemporary art and cultural commentary from the Chinese art scene. Cao is also the exectuive Director of The Art Newspaper in China.
For her film-making practice she often collaborates with her sister Cao Fei to make hilarious mockumentary style documentaries about her ancestry and family.