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Smuin Ballet's French Kiss

Known for snaps of personality and unexpected twists one doesn't often find at Swan Lake, Smuin Ballet has outdone itself this season. Scoring a much-coveted Jiri Kylian piece - arguably the best choreographer in the world, receiving permission to use one of his works is a Herculean feat - Smuin's dancers perform an elegantly articulated seduction with sharp props and lots of bare skin. (The dancers handily avoid skewering any toes, if you're worried.) Erotically charged and expertly composed, Kylian's Petite Mort (why, yes, that IS French for orgasm) is not to be missed - whether you're a ballet fan or not.

Next up is the quick-moving and coquettish French Twist, a world premiere by energetic up-and-coming choreographer Ma Cong. The women slide across the floor in white minis and red lipstick while the men catch air under the bright lights. Infusing the Bay Area dance scene with new blood and venerable masters (not to make Kylian sound like Yoda or anything), this is the time to see Smuin Ballet. In fact, I would pay to see this again.

Plays through June 5 in San Francisco, Walnut Creek, Cupertino, and Carmel. Tickets are $18-56 at www.smuinballet.org.