Much like with music, the experience of dance can change dramatically, given the setting. Even with the same number of seats, different venues can offer shifting sightlines, altered acoustics, and a more or less intimate connection between the artists and the audience.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Zhukov Dance Theatre becomes the first contemporary dance company to perform in the SFJazz Center with "Product 06," a program featuring world premieres by Yuri Zhukov and guest choreographer Idan Sharabi. For Zhukov, the chance to break in the new venue was irresistible, with its prime Hayes Valley address -- near many of the city's top fine-arts venues -- and rising profile as a forum for more than jazz.
"Some of our supporters put a lot of energy into building SFJazz, and they wanted us to be there," says Zhukov. "It's a building that's home for music, and we want to help make it an interesting place for a diverse array of arts."
Since he launched his own company in 2008 with "Product 01," Zhukov has quickly established himself as a vital new voice on the Bay Area dance scene. His company is steeped in classical ballet technique but eager to explore new movement vocabularies. Born in Russia and trained at the Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg, Zhukov got his start at the Kirov Ballet, but soon chafed under the company's strict hierarchical structure.
An accomplished painter, set designer and aspiring actor, he wasn't even sure he wanted to focus on dance, but after performing in the Bay Area with the Kirov, he got an offer from San Francisco Ballet, which gave him the chance to stand out in a smaller company. With San Francisco and the Royal Birmingham Ballet, he performed lead roles in classic ballets such as "Giselle," "Swan Lake," and "Sleeping Beauty," as well as in works by Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Helgi Tomasson and David Bintley.
"I was working for the Kirov at 23, and I really wanted to change my situation," Zhukov says. "I lived with my parents. I was ready to start my own life, and I couldn't. In my heart at that point, I didn't know if I wanted to do dance completely. ... But when I came to San Francisco and Helgi gave me a contract, I had to perform every day onstage, so I got really involved here, and improved as a dancer, simply because of more opportunities."
Zhukov joined the City Ballet School in 2005, a connection that allowed him to exercise many of his talents. He started creating dances as a resident choreographer and also did costume design and photography. After a few years, Zhukov had impressed several major City Ballet patrons, most importantly Millicent Powers, who played an essential role in getting Zhukov Dance Theatre off the ground.
He's been making the most of the opportunity. Zhukov premieres "En Light" on Tuesday and Wednesday, a work for five dancers set to music by Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, Catalan composer Jordi Savall and Bach, interspersed with modern classical pieces and electronic sounds.
"We wanted to do contemporary, edgy work, very much based on European experimental companies, to search and create different ways of expression," Zhukov says. "I was very inspired by Nederlands Dans Theatre. Their ways of expression are quite different." He had been looking to work with Idan Sharabi for several years when the Israeli choreographer's busy schedule opened up this year. A former dancer with Nederlands Dans Theatre and Israel's celebrated Batsheva Dance Company, Sharabi spent several weeks in San Francisco in the summer and his work is a response to the city and its residents, with a score that weaves together everything from Alexander Scriabin to Robin Thicke.
Details: 8 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday at SFJazz Center, 201 Franklin St., San Francisco; $25-$55; 866-920-5299, www.sfjazz.org.
Contact Andrew Gilbert at email@example.com.
Shanghai Ballet: Cal Performances presents the company's "Butterfly Lovers," a sumptuous ballet based on a Romeo-and-Juliet-like Chinese folk tale, at Zellerbach Hall at 8 p.m. Nov. 1-2; $30-$92; 510-642-9988, www.calperformances.org.
Joanna Haigood: Inspired by W.E.B. Du Bois' seminal concept of "double consciousness," the Bay Area choreographer and director explores issues of race and identity in the world premiere of "Between me and the other world," 1-5 p.m. Nov. 1-3 at San Francisco's Zaccho Studio, 1777 Yosemite Ave., Studio 330. She created the immersive performance installation in collaboration with Berkeley drummer/composer Anthony Brown (who leads the Grammy Award-nominated Asian American Orchestra), video artist David Szlasa, scenic designer Sean Riley and performing artists Jetta Martin, Raissa Simpson, Rashidi Omari and Matthew Wickett. The event is free. For more information, go to