Former San Francisco Ballet Principal Dancer, Kirov Ballet Soloist, and Choreographer Yuri Zhukov’s ‘Zhukov Dance Theatre’

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One of the most exciting new contemporary dance troupes seen in recent years in the SF Bay Area is set to begin rehearsal for their annual Fall 2011 Season. But being able to see Zhukov Dance Theatre’s upcoming Season ’04’, September 1, 2, & 3, 2011, at ZSpace Theatre in San Francisco, was a narrow miss.

Many San Francisco Balletomanes remember the elegant classicism of Kirov trained Yuri Zhukov, the very first Russian dancer to officially emmigrate so he could join SFB…where he graced us with his sound base of gorgeous Vaganova technique for six years, before relocating to the Royal Birmingham Ballet. He frequently partnered SFB favorite French ballerina Muriel Maffre (he was Prince Siegfried to her Odette/Odile), and was one third of the famous cast of Muriel Maffre, Ashley Wheater (current Artistic Director of the Joffrey, where he danced prior to his SFB Principal Dancer and Ballet Master tenure, not to mention his time at the Royal Ballet), and Yuri Zhukov in Ashton’s iconic ‘Monotones’.

While Zhukov’s choreographic skills were highly valued in Sweden, England, and at SFB School and City Ballet School upon his return to San Francisco in 2003, it wasn’t until he founded his own contemporary dance company in  2007 that the local dance scene sat up and took notice of his dance-making talents in a big way.  

Darren Devaney in Zhukov's 'Shared and Divided'; Photo: Sandy Lee

 Zhukov Dance Theatre announced itself loud and clear in its first memorable season, reinforced its cutting edge status in its second season, and made its 3rd season in 2010 a ‘promise’ of continued excellence in local contemporary dance. The critics raved, the local dance scene turned out in droves of support, and the rest of us felt blessed to be included.

What we witnessed was a fresh young company of diverse training, total artistic dedication from talented dancers that were cherry-picked from an international audition process, and some daringly creative risks that actually worked. Yuri, as the Co-Founder and main choreographer of Zhukov Dance Theatre, was serving up slices of imperfect humanity in sometimes uncomfortable, often hilarious, and always inventive ways. That the pieces were dramatically executed with truth by dancers deeply committed to their art form is something to shout about.


Christopher Bordenave & Asa Lundvik Gustafson in Zhukov's 'Pioneer Plaques; Photo: Sandy Lee

So, about that narrow miss:

I was a little slow on the uptake and just discovered that Zhukov Dance Theatre was suffering mightily from the woes of this economy. ZDT needed funding for their ’04’ Season this fall. I was prepared to beg your support and cry about what a tragic loss it would be if we were to be deprived of seeing this remarkable company’s progress…

and now I am pleased to announce that we will see ZDT in 2011.

Like Tiit Helimets and Co. and SFB Principal Dancer Maria Kochetkova, whose projects are documentary films, ZDT reached out to the dance community and arts lovers via ‘Kickstarter’, an online support system set up for ‘Backers’ to independently donate as little as $1.00 for approved independent arts projects. It is a unique new way of receiving necessary funding through networking and no money is collected from the ‘Backers’, unless the project is totally funded.

Zhukov Dance Theatre 2010 Season Poster; Photos & Design: Sandy Lee

Well, Zhukov Dance Theatre is now funded for their 2011 season!

However…there are still 11 days left till the project date for their 2011 season funding ends. The amount required to sufficiently fulfill their budgetary concerns does not end there. Not only does ZDT need as much financial assistance as we can give them…

There are REWARDS for ‘Backers’ that include exclusive rehearsal photographs, a ZDT poster signed by Artistic Director Yuri Zhukov, attendance to one of the rehearsals, and even a portrait painted by Yuri Zhukov, who just happens to also be a fine painter.

(Odette suggests ‘Backing’ at the $50 level, if you’ve never seen a live rehearsal before; it’s a thrill to observe the process before the curtain goes up.)

If you are unable to donate, there’s still a reward for you; Zhukov Dance Theatre’s own web site has gorgeous photo slideshows and galleries in their ‘photography’ section, video clips, and their Kickstarter video ad is beautifully produced with luscious music. Treat yourself and pay them a visit and you’ll understand why all this fuss:

Zhukov Dance Theatre web site

Zhukov Dance Theatre’s 5 minute ‘Kickstarter’ video clip and interview with Yuri Zhukov 

(^you’ll love the music)

Zhukov Dance Theatre 2009 Season Poster; Photo & Design: Sandy Lee

And most importantly, do not (NOT) miss Zhukov Dance Theatre in performance on September 1, 2, & 3, 2011, at ZSpace in San Francisco. If you’re a dance lover, of any style, ZDT will enrich and challenge your experience of dance viewing. And I mean that in a very good way.

Next up: ‘Odette’s Observations’ from the last rehearsal of Tiit Helimets and Co, right before their resoundingly successful Estonian Tour, ‘SFB Dancer Doings’ (what have our favorite SFB Dancers been up to since season end?), a return to ‘The Little Mermaid’, a 2011 SFB Season Recap and Wrap, and ‘Odette’s 2011 White & Black Feather Awards’.


Don’t forget to mark your calendars for SFB’s free summer performance on July 31st, 2011, at Stern Grove here.

See You at the Ballet,


About Odette's Ordeal

'Ballet's Head Cheerleader'
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