My review in today’s Chronicle:

“If you’d like reassurance that worthy talent is on occasion rewarded with generous patronage, consider Yuri Zhukov. For the last five years, the former Kirov and San Francisco Ballet dancer’s choreographic efforts have premiered mostly at the student recitals of our local City Ballet School. Among the proud parents were passionate Zhukov fans, two of whom – Zhukov Dance Theatre co-founders Millicent Powers and Sandy Lee – have marketing savvy to match their money.

The debut performance of Zhukov’s troupe Friday was titled “Product 01” – it came accompanied by a catalog-style program filled with arty rehearsal photography. Perhaps unfairly, such professional packaging for such a nascent venture arouses my skepticism; no matter. In a single evening, Zhukov Dance Theatre established itself as one of the most promising presences on the Bay Area dance scene. With movement this luscious, if Zhukov’s selling, I’m buying.

And Zhukov’s product is a definable one. It’s European ballet, skillfully blending influences from latter-day William Forsythe and Hans Van Manen, among others, but serving them up more gently, without the affront of intellectual provocation or emotional disturbance. In the opening of “M&W,” dancers slunk beneath a lowered lighting grid – but that industrial look is now more chic than startling. In “Passing,” the six men and women wore unisex flowing skirts, another well-worn theatrical device. And yet in the best moments at the Yerba Buena Center for the Art’s Novellus Theater – and especially in “Passing” – Zhukov emerged as not merely a recycler but as a developing artist in his own right, who has softer but perfectly compelling things to say.”

Click here for the full review.

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