Amidst (The Painted Bird II)

Admist (The Painted Bird II)
Pavel Zuštiak / Palissimo (USA)

Haunting images interface with a cast of three, juxtaposing the past and present, real and virtual, as a constant shifting illusion at the intersection of dance, visual art, and live music. The audiovisual elements engulf the audience, who is invited to make their own choices about where to experience the work. Blurred lines of presence and absence, memory and disappearance cannot possibly all be consumed. Amidst is the middle part of The Painted Bird and fittingly focuses on nostalgia as a place of entrapment on a journey “home.”
“It’s worth losing your bearings for a while in the enigmatic atmosphere of this high-art haunted house.”
The New York Post
60 minutes
In memory of Jason Bingham Noble (1971–2012)

Jan 12 5pm
Jan 13 3pm
Jan 14 8pm
Jan 14 3pm

Performance Space 122: 150 1st Ave., Manhattan

$20 / $15 students, seniors
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Award winning choreographer Pavel Zuštiak is the Producing Artistic Director of Palissimo Company, established in New York City in 2004 under his vision to pursue artistic liberty through communion with live audiences. Palissimo is known for sophisticated, multidisciplinary works with piercing emotional content and abundant surrealist imagery that explore “the darker shades of human behavior” (The New Yorker). Born in the former Czechoslovakia and trained at the School for New Dance Development in Amsterdam, Zuštiak’s relocated to the U.S. in 1999. He has won the prestigious 2007 Princess Grace Award, 2009 Princess Grace Residency Award, received the 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship, a 2010/2011 NEFA: National Dance Project Award, a 2013 Alpert Award nomination (his second to date) and was named an ambassador of KOŠICE 2013, European Capital of Culture. Zuštiak’s most recent 4+ hour trilogy project The Painted Bird (Bastard/Amidst/Strange Cargo) brought together co-producer/co-presenters La Mama, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Performance Space 122, Wexner Center and Stanica-Zilina. Deborah Jowitt of the Artsjournal called the trilogy “extraordinary,” The New York Times as “searing,” while the Financial Times as “earning its emotional extremity with tenderness and quiet.”
Zuštiak currently resides in New York City.


Palissimo, an adventurous dance theater company from New York, is re-mounting its enigmatic and atmospheric Amidst of the Painted Bird during 2013 COIL Festival. Choreographed by Pavel Zuštiak, Palissimo’s Czechoslovakian-born artistic director, The Painted Bird is inspired by a classic and controversial novel of the same name by Polish-born author Jerzy Kosiński. The allegorical novel tells the story of a young boy making his way through war-time Eastern Europe and a brilliantly painted bird that is violently killed by its own flock, which mistakes it for an imposter. Zuštiak’s ambitious, emotionally charged project excavates the tale’s themes—identity, otherness, displacement, and transformation—in three uniquely staged performance events. His approach integrates dance, video, and visual projections with live music composed by Christian Frederickson (a former member of the acclaimed chamber rock band Rachel’s) and Ryan Rumery and Jason Noble. As a New York Times reviewer observed, “Essentially, Zuštiak has created a roomful of outsiders. That sensation of being on the outside looking in…along with the live score, gives jolts of spooky energy. There is the sense that, with The Painted Bird, he has found his material, and will be mining it for a long time to come.”

Concept/Direction/Choreography Pavel Zuštiak
Original Music Christian Frederickson, Jason Noble, Ryan Rumery
Performed by Lindsey Dietz-Marchant, Nicholas Bruder, Pavel Zuštiak
Live Music Performed by Christian Frederickson, Tim Iseler, Ryan Rumery
Photography Robert Flynt
Video Design Keith Skretch
Lighting Design Joe Levasseur
Costume Design Nick Vaughan
Dramaturgy A .P. Andrews
Touring & Production Management Elizabeth Moreau

The Painted Bird trilogy is a co-production of Palissimo Company, Wexner Center for the Arts, La MaMa, Baryshnikov Arts Center, PS122, Stanica-Zilina (Slovakia), Grotowski Institute (Poland). Amidst was developed and supported during a residency at BAC (NYC) with financial support from the Princess Grace Foundation—USA. Further funding was provided by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Greenwall Foundation, the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Jerome Foundation. Production design support was provided by The Edith Lutyens and Norman Bel Geddes Design Enhancement Fund, a program of the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York (A.R.T./New York). Funds for the composers’ commission and musicians’ fees were provided by the American Music Center Live Music for Dance Program. Amidst was also made possible through subsidized studio space provided by the A.R.T./New York Creative Space Grant, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Swing Space program provided by a real estate donation from Capstone Equities. Additional presentation support from Mertz Gilmore Foundation, Harkness Foundation for Dance and Jerome Robbins Foundation.

Pavel Zuštiak Answers Your Questions

The Painted Bird Trilogy is a trio of interdisciplinary live performance works by Pavel Zuštiak | Palissimo Company, featuring dance, live music, video, and visual projection, presented in New York City by La MaMa (November 2010), Baryshnikov Arts Center (June 2011) and Performance Space 122 at Synod Hall, NYC (May 2012).

Here, Pavel answers audience questions submitted following the performances of Part III, Strange Cargo.

Audience Member: What is the relationship of the work to the original book?
PZ: This is the first time I turned to a book as an inspiration for my work. Together with the cast, musicians and designers we turned to it as a source abstracting the themes of displacement, migration, transformation and “outsidership” into a trilogy of live performance works. It was my goal to create the work that would through abstraction speak to vast audiences beyond cultural or historical differences. I feel that history is repeating itself and issues tackled in The Painted Bird book are as relevant today as they were decades ago. But I was not planning on adapting the book’s narrative for stage in a literal manner.
Continue reading “Pavel Zuštiak Answers Your Questions”

Strange Cargo

Pavel Zuštiak + Palissimo Company (NYC)
The Painted Bird (Part III): Strange Cargo

“A vivid, often anguished, imagination shines through in work…”
– The New Yorker

In this capstone of the acclaimed The Painted Bird trilogy, choreographer Pavel Zuštiak collaborates with composers Christian Frederickson & Ryan Rumery to plunge into assumptions of refuge and home. The urge to survive is inherent, the feeling of otherness is universal and yet reality shifts the minute the desire to belong is turned inside out.

“Bastard is searing.” -Gia Kourlas, The New York Times

“Bastard earns its emotional extremity – with tenderness and quiet.” -Apollinaire Scherr, Financial Times ★★★★

“Bastard had both magic and mystery.” -Leigh Witchel, DanceViewTimes

2010 Time Out New York Honorable Mention


“Mr. Zuštiak, a striking performer who projected an exquisite, unknowable vulnerability. There is the sense that, with The Painted Bird, he has found his material, and will be mining it for a long time to come.” -Claudia LaRocco, The New York Times

“And, as always, this artist has chosen forceful performers with the physical skills and courage to follow him into the dark, shuttered spaces of human life.” -Eva Yaa Asantewaa, Dance Magazine

“The most disorienting reminders of the terrors of that war, though, came from the emotional impact of the dance, and the audience’s own foggy path.” -Martha Sherman, DanceViewTimes

“It’s worth losing your bearings for a while in the enigmatic atmosphere of this high-art haunted house.” -Leigh Witchel, New York Post

Pavel Zuštiak is a choreographer, performer and sound designer. 2010 John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, 2009 Princess Grace Foundation Residency Award- and 2007 Princess Grace Award-winner for Choreography. He is the Artistic Director of Palissimo Company, founded and based in New York City since 2004. Zuštiak was named an ambassador of Košice European Capital of Culture 2013, his birth city that was selected together with Marseille as European cultural capitals.
Christian Frederickson is a violist, composer, and sound designer living in Brooklyn, NY.
He received his MM in viola from The Juilliard School. He is a founding member of the critically acclaimed alternative indie-rock band Rachel’s and a founder of The Young Scamels with Jason Noble and Greg King. Frederickson has collaborated with a number of theater directors and choreographers, developing a signature style as a musical improviser and composer for the stage.
Performed by Giulia Carotenuto, Lindsey Dietz-Marchant, Luke Murphy, Denisa Musilova and Jeremy Xido.

Live music by Frederickson and Ryan Rumery. Lights by Joe Levasseur, set by Peter Ksander, costumes by Asta Hostetter, and video design by Keith Skretch and Manny Pallad.

Learn more about the Palissimo Company and the The Painted Bird Trilogy Project

Photo © David Kumerman

PS122 is proud to present our first production at Synod Hall at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The world’s largest Gothic cathedral – and headquarters of the Episcopal Diocese of New York – dominates Morningside Heights, just south of Columbia University. Synod Hall is a beautiful building located on the Cathedral’s southern grounds.

A Long Table on Migration & Displacement
Lead by Masha Pyshkina

Saturday, May 5 at 5:30pm

at Synod Hall (NE corner of Amsterdam at 110th)

FREE and open to the public.
Limited capacity – reservations strongly encouraged. Reserve online
Light refreshments to be provided, including sweets from the Hungarian Pastry Shop.

The Long Table is an experimental public forum originally developed by performance artist Lois Weaver. The Long Table experiments with participation and public engagement by re-appropriating a dinner table atmosphere as a public forum, and encouraging informal conversations on serious topics. It is literally a very long table set up with chairs and refreshments where anyone and everyone is welcome to come to the table, ask questions, make statements, leave comments, or simply sit, listen and watch.

This Long Table is held in concurrence with Palissimo’s Strange Cargo. Performances are May 3 – 13 Thursday – Sunday at Synod Hall and presented by Performance Space 122 in conjunction with The Cathedral Church of St. John’s the Divine.

After eight years as Program Director at CEC ArtsLink, Masha Pyshkina continues to work on international arts projects as an independent producer and consultant. Originally from St. Petersburg, Russia, she has over fifteen years of experience administering international programs. She holds a Masters Degree in Arts Administration from New York’s Columbia University, and BA degrees from State Pedagogical University in St.Petersburg (English, German and Art History) and from Grinnell College (Economics).

Strange Cargo (Part III) was created with commissioning support from Performance Space 122 and Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University and made possible, in part, by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and additional funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the MetLife Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support and commissioning funds for this program have been provided by The Jerome Foundation and New Music USA’s Live Music for Dance program and additional project support was provided by Greenwall Foundation and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Strange Cargo was developed and supported during residency at the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography (Tallahassee, FL), Baryshnikov Arts Center, Abrons Arts Center and also made possible by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Swing Space program through a real estate donation from Capstone Equities.

This presentation is supported, in part, by the Harkness Foundation for Dance, the Jerome Robbins Foundation and the Mertz Gilmore Foundation.

Presented by Performance Space 122 in conjunction with The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine
Synod Hall
at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine
Amsterdam Ave. at 110th Street, Manhattan, NY
May 3 – 13, 2012
Thursday 8pm
Friday, Saturday 8pm & 9:30pm
Sunday 8pm
Note: There is no late seating for Strange Cargo

Opening night hospitality sponsor: Veselka & Veselka Bowery

Blind Spot



“Blind Spot casts a potent spell.”
– Deborah Jowitt, The Village Voice

Pavel Zustiak, the 2007 recipient of The Princess Grace Award in Choreography, reprises the acclaimed Blind Spot at Performance Space 122 and creates a world where that which is no longer seen, heard, nor felt reoccurs as an unwelcome guest. Numb senses retrieve their former abilities and experience the world as if for the first – or last – time.

Direction and Choreography: Pavel Zustiak
Performed by: Gina Bashour, Yoel Cassell, Ashleigh Leite, Anthony Whitehurst
Lighting Design: Joe Levasseur; Costume Design: Nick Vaughan; Set and Sound Design: Pavel Zustiak

More information about Pallissimo

Original Run: June 11 – 15, 2008
Also playing in the COIL 2009 Festival

Le Petit Mort



Zustiak’s world is full of “striving, sweating bodies, but beyond what they actually do lies another, more enigmatic kind of “doing.””
-Deborah Jowitt, The Village Voice

Choreographer Pavel Zustiak teams up with famed video artist Tal Yarden exposing postmortem ecstasy somewhere between a dream and a memory entitled Le Petit Mort. Raw, unsettling, emotionally charged images ask questions that are ultimately unanswerable – questions of the matters of the end. Scenes of disquieting stillness and agitation, haunting traces of life past living, will leave a residue that can’t be washed off.

Direction and Choreography by Pavel Zustiak
Created with Performers Benjamin Asriel, Gina Bashour, Ellen Cremer, Saar Harari, Marya Wethers and Pavel Zustiak
Video Design by Tal Yarden
Dramaturgy by Rachel Chavkin
Set and Costume Design by Nick Vaughn
Theatre Lobby Photo Installation and website photo by Jose Aragon

This work was commissioned by Performance Space 122 and was made possible in part by the Manhattan Community Arts Fund/New York City Department if Cultural Affairs, administered by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.


Click aboveto watch Le Petit Mort teaser video

World Premiere
Resceduled from December 2006
April 12 – 15, 2007
Thursday – Saturday at 8 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday at 4 p.m.
$20, $15 Student/Senior
($10 Members)

All rights reserved by Performance Space New York
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