Zhukov Dance Theatre, SF

Written by:
Joanna G. Harris
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‘Dreams Recycled’

Zhukov Dance Theatre
Yuri Zhukov, Director
Sept. 1-3, 2011
Z Space, San Francisco

Six dancers in the Zhokov company offer images from their dreams. Video and voice-over tell the stories. The verbal memories are printed in the program. There is little continuity, but a great deal of repetition. The dancers, from many different companies in the worlddance beautifully. Alas, the choreography often does not permit the dream images to emerge nor the vocabulary to develop the specific images needed to fulfill the dream text. Nevertheless, this is Yuri Zhukov’s best work since the company’s founding in 2007.

The company consists of five men and two women. Except for a duet for the two women, they only occasionally are included in the work. The five men have similar body types, small, slim, extremely flexible, capable of tremendous technical feats. “Dreams Recycled” is divided into six sections. We hear the voiceover and projected visual images that define the sections, called” Seeking,” “Killing,” “Skiing,” “Remembering,” ” Running” and “Hallucinating.” Although the dream images are strong (e.g., “there is nothing at the bottom of the slope”; “I try to see his face, but it’s not there” “I would run away. She looked scary”), the movement vocabulary remains similar throughout, as do the dynamics. The exception is the duet for the two women, Katja Bjorner and Allie Papazian, which, unlike the vocabulary of leaps, falls, rolls and torso contractions that dominates the men’s work, the women use slow, circular movement and shadow dancing—i.e., Allie, in a short black dress, initiates the moves and Katja, in white,follows her. It is a very dramatic duet.

The five men, Douglas Scott Baum, Sergio Junior Benvindo de Souza, Christopher Bordenave, Darren Devaney and Martyn Garside, are all of similar size and build. They have fine dynamic and dramatic ability. At one point Garside, a former SFB dancer, rolls out a large paper and scribbles on it. Later the paper is ripped. Although this action draws attention, it does not support either the reported dream imagery or any text. At another moment, three men, in their underwear, dance with flashlights. This is intriguing, but it begs the serious question: why doesn’t the choreography vary, develop and amplify the dream images? If that is not to be, why use the dream images at all?

Zhukov has taken some positive directions with this program. Former programs were more fragmented. With such fine dancers, and interesting images, we would hope he would develop into a more sophisticated and resourceful choreography.

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