Palissimo- No Dancing for Its Own Sake.

Palissimo- No Dancing for Its Own Sake.

Palissimo- No Dancing for Its Own Sake.

Creative process, collaboration and the pursuit of transformation. An In-depth conversation with Pavel Zuštiak (Palissimo), a NYC-based director, choreographer and performer.

Pavel Zuštiak is a NYC-based director, choreographer, performer and sound designer, and a founder and artistic director of the contemporary performance group Palissimo Company. Born in the communist Czechoslovakia and trained at the School for New Dance Development in Amsterdam, he is known for sophisticated, multidisciplinary works that are rich in evocative imagery, piercing emotional resonance, and non-narrative content. Zuštiak is a recipient of 2013 LMCC President's Award for Excellence in Artistic Practice, 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship and a winner of the 2007 and 2009 Princess Grace Awards. Last year, his four-hour trilogy The Painted Bird (inspired by Jerzy Kosiński's novel under the same title) received a Bessie Award nomination for Outstanding Production; its soloist Jaro Viňarský  won a Bessie for Outstanding Performer under his direction. 

The Creativity Post's Milena Z. Fisher talks with Pavel Zuštiak  about the realities of collaboration, the true dynamics of the creative process , and sources of motivation and inspiration in multidisciplinary art.

Milena Fisher: What is dance – or, in a broader sense, dance theater — to you?

Pavel Zuštiak: The first thing worth noting here is that I’ve always felt — and I still feel — that I somehow landed in the dance world accidentally. I feel more comfortable calling myself an artist than a choreographer, because the latter comes with lots of assumptions about what people think dance is, and I often find them limiting. If I do call myself a choreographer, and I like to think of myself as someone who likes to stretch this definition and shift these assumptions.

I don’t really know where it comes from, but I feel the need to treat all the elements of the show as equally important. This is why my process is slightly different from what happens with a typical dance theater production. It’s not my desire to create a dance movement and then just put lights on it when the choreography is set in place. For me lighting is like something equal, it had equal voice, equal character in the show. And the same goes for all the other elements og the show.

Milena Fisher: What does the name of your company Palissimo mean, or what does it stand for?

PZ: Palo is my nickname — Palissimo is about heightening the essence of not just me, but any collaborator I work with. I want to do the opposite of what you usually see in ballet, where everybody looks the same and a one-size-fits-all ideal applies. I actually want to go even further in exploring what makes someone who they are. In my mind, people are like snowflakes, each person has unique qualities that make them special. If one can heighten and strengthen this quality in a performer, I think what we get is fascinating to see on stage.

MF: You wear so many hats during the process — how do you keep those elements separate so they don’t contradict one another, and how do you draw them together into a coherent narrative?

PZ: Contradictions happening on this level can be very interesting: they can create unexpected tension. For me you start with an idea, and there are many different ways of expressing ideas: some can be best expressed through sound, some through movement, and some through lighting. An idea can be expressed through all of these; in this way I basically create a palette, and then make decisions about which one of the components is closest to the mark, and I choose that one; or, another element might frame the other to heighten the tension between the two. When I’m directing a piece, I work as an editor, drawing together and managing a collaborative process. People come in with ideas and generate material, and I edit and bring coherence to the whole.

MF: How does your process start? Where do your ideas for new pieces come from?

PZ: It all starts with a notebook. At the beginning, it’s just a list of things. I’m just jotting down anything I see that catches my eye. And I don't know where they belong, I don’t know why I’m interested in them or what the common denominator is; and then, months later, I begin to see certain things standing out. In the last process we also started to use Evernote with my collaborators, generating a pile of clips, links, images that we shared. Sometimes I compile these bits and pieces for a year or two — and then the moment comes when I need to formulate what it all is. Usually the catalyst is a grant proposal, when I have to write something that can make other people understand what my concept is.

MF: That’s not very romantic! [laughs]

PZ: But it’s pragmatic! I think deadlines are your best friends, because they force you to quickly squeeze something out that’s very coherent. And once I start to plow through it, I may start to see a thread, or something coming to the surface — something that’s obvious at that point. But what I’m saying is that an idea starts before I know what it is. My starting point isn’t: “Let’s take Kosiński’s The Painted Bird” — it doesn’t happen like that.

MF: Once the concept emerges, who are the people you seek out to participate in shaping this idea and create the final product?

PZ: Let me use an example. Among many other hats I wear, I’m also a sound designer. When I moved to New York, I started doing sound design work out of necessity: I didn’t have money to hire a composer, so I started using my own material generated on a computer to do my own sound design. I loved doing it and apparently it worked well — other people started hiring me to do sound design for their pieces. Around five of the previous Palissimo productions used sound designs I created myself. The next show was different: I started to think about The Painted Bird and Kosiński. Because of the nature of the material, on the one hand I knew I needed or wanted an acoustic sound, on the other it would have to be something raw, something that would somehow hit you unexpectedly, so I was looking for what could combine both of these things — and immediately I thought of a friend of a friend at the time, the composer and musician Christian Frederickson from Rachel’s, who’s a classically trained musician but also plays electric guitar and electronics— and I thought: oh, that might be a good fit. And that led to me talking to him, explaining what I wanted to do, and he said yes.

The next part of the process was just me spending time collecting images – well, I call them images, but they are not necessary static: by an image, I mean a scene or event. And then I try to translate them into physical action — and then into a variety of different physical actions that I propose to dancers in the studio. They start improvising around those; sometimes we spend a long time in the studio, playing with those ideas and refining them. Somebody said a work of art takes as much time as you have available. So we had processes were we spent a year and a half in the studio — and we had a process where it took a month. For example, we did all of Bastard in five weeks.

That said — I love working in residencies. Sure, I love New York — the city I’ve been living in for fifteen years; I find it very European, cosmopolitan. I love that it offers easy exposure to different points of view – although on the economic level, it’s definitely harder and harder to live here as an artist. The downside of New York is, that companies here usually work for a few hours every week, though. You have somebody for two or three hours, and then they run to another rehearsal or they’ve just rushed from somewhere to get to your rehearsal… I can’t work like that anymore. I much prefer working with people for six or eight hours a day for two straight weeks, and then taking a break.

MF: You mentioned finding inspiration completely outside the genre. It’s like you’re trying to create some sort of different entity, with different rules.

On Weddings and Beheadings, I worked with the visual artist and photographer Robert Flynt; we worked together again on Amidst. I was drawn to his work — specifically when I saw some of the images he’d donated for a benefit auction at PS122, a theater we’d worked with for several years. His method is very close to what I’m doing: he juxtaposes found photographs — often from the turn of the century — with pictures that he’s taken. So there’s this tension between the found pictures and the ones he’s taken, which kind of relates to a conflict of opposites, this duality that you often find in my work. His visuals are such an important part of what’s happening on stage, and the dynamic created there made them so much more than just a set design. In Weddings and Beheadings we had a video scene, video sequence of Marie Curie — the first X-ray was actually an X-ray of her hand, taken by accident. We were playing on the idea that her discovery could lead to healing (medical use) or war (the atomic bomb). In the same show, we had a fight between two guys that was choreographed then slowed down to the point where it began to actually look like two lovers embracing — and then we sped it up… Something occurs one way, you shift it just a little bit — and it becomes the seed of something else. This tension of opposites is something I was drawn to.

M: What kind of choices do you make once the process begins? How much are you in control of the process?

PZ: It’s very much give-and-take. Sometimes you know from the start it’s an image, a very clear image. Let take Bastard: Jaro Viňarský in the opening scene, squatting, and shuffling around the stage in a coat. It’s a six-minute scene — and I had this image in my head from the start. As we found out during the studio work, it was a killer to do. It looks so simple, but it was physically very challenging. So in that instance, the control came right from the start. But in some other instances I had a vague idea and then it was up to Jaro to figure out its execution.

Sometimes it’s better to go with restraint. In rehearsal you go into different nuances of what a piece could be, sometimes even pushing it into caricature, or into an extreme emotional state – and then in performance it all gets scaled down. Yet, this process still resonates, because you know what you’ve reduced, because you have the history of going through all these motions. In performance I want to invite people to an experience as well. For me as someone watching a performance it’s a huge turnoff if I feel things are forced on me in the show.

It’s possible to reduce a scene that’s meant to resonate emotionally down to a simple physical task and the execution of it — where the performers feel nothing. I was reading an interview with an actress — I don’t remember who it was – who said: During the rehearsal process I study my character, I feel for the character and then I feel nothing for them when I’m on stage, because, she said, the more I feel on stage, the less space I give the audience to feel. If I’m distant from my character it gives the audience freedom and space to feel. It’s a paradox, but one that resonates with me. I have often told my performers, don’t help things, don’t try to provoke an emotion from the audience, don’t do it, because actually that usually blocks it.

MF: Do you think that dancers are born or made? How do you find your performers, and what are the most important criteria for choosing them?

PZ: I’m hesitant make any grand statements here because the question brings to mind Ida Kelarova, a sister of Iva Bittova, a famous avant-garde Czech musician. Kelarova is a singer and she organizes these two-week workshops, focused on voice, but they also involve physical exercises. Her belief is that everyone is a singer. She believes that through our lived experiences we either neglect it — or traumatic events actually block our voices. Her workshops are about freeing our voices. Often it’s a very emotional process to get there. I saw a documentary on one of these workshops and it was really remarkable what she achieved with her participants. I believe everybody is born creative; you just either evolve or develop those skills or you don’t. Sweat is a major part of any success.

MF: How do you find your performers?

PZ: I have some history with some, they might be friends of friend, or there might some kind of a personal relationship. With others — I go to shows; I see them in performance, or in classes and workshops. Skill is important — but even so, someone can be a beautiful technician and that might not be enough. Sometimes when I work with dancers their training actually gets in the way of what I’m trying to get them to do. I often prefer to work with actors who are physically talented, because I feel that many actors have an easier time sustaining the intention behind a movement. It’s really difficult for many dancers to connect intention with movement because of how they were trained, there’s a disconnect that I see in training. It’s not overtraining that’s at fault here — it’s what kind of training they get. The way I work, dealing with that is frustrating because I have to spend time getting them to unlearn some of the training they’ve absorbed.

It is very intuitive for me. I want dancers to embody certain ideas. I’m more and more interested – and I’ve always been interested in — looking for dancers who show a certain opinion about ideas through physicality, even in stillness, in their presence on stage — and in life. It’s so interconnected, your personal conflicts show in how you carry yourself. I want a full personality, a complete person, with a history, with his or her own opinions.

MF: When you direct your dancers, how much freedom do you give them?

PZ: All the freedom they want and need. It’s a back-and-forth process. I rarely work with the same people, with a few exceptions. There are dancers I work with on more than one project – like Jaro Viňarský, or previously Gina Bashour and Lindsey Dietz Merchant; since I have a certain style of working, sometimes it’s nice to work with the same people, because they understand what I mean by certain things and how I work. On the other hand, it’s always nice to have new performers because they bring new energy and fresh ideas. Sometimes you feel a little too comfortable with your collaborators, and there’s a need to shake things up, to get out of your comfort zone. Outside input can be helpful by disrupting things or questioning old ways of doing them.

MF: When you prepare your dancers for the show, do you give them reading material or the music — or you just let them do whatever?

PZ: Often I don’t give them anything at all; often we start from scratch, from simple physical tasks. Actually, sometimes I prefer them not to know what we’re going to do, or what the overall idea is. Otherwise, there’s a temptation for people to start to interpret, to help the material… I prefer to get to that towards the end of the process rather than discuss it with them from the start. I always say in my mind art is not a democracy. Once, I was a part of a contemporary improvisation group where several strong artists with strong visions were involved. Creatively, it was a challenge, because eventually lots ideas coming from different people got watered down.

In the development process, you have to constantly act like a psychologist. How do you inspire people you’re working with without blocking their creativity — in the studio, or in other phases of the process? How do you navigate that without feeling like you’re correcting them, and losing something else? I have to be partially their parent, their shrink, their lover, whatever it takes… [laughs] Making art and working with people is hard!

For some pieces, we even employed people who weren’t professional dancers. For a crowd scene in Bastard, the first part of The Painted Bird trilogy, we had a group of volunteers — about fifty or sixty of them. Many of them never stood on stage before. It was beautiful and fascinating in every location we performed that piece with local people and it took on a life of its own in New York City. Some of the people we worked with ended up on stage in three other productions, staged within a year-and-a-half-long period. These were people who’d never performed before — but suddenly, they were fascinated to the point that they started doing theater shows, and some of them are pursuing it more seriously. The same thing happened in Prague: there was actually a part of this larger group — I think a group of ten — who started to get together and team up to do shows. It was really gratifying to hear that.

Pina Bausch famously said: I’m not interested in how dancers move, but in what moves them. This is what I care about: what drives them, what propels them onstage — that’s the underlying motive.

MF: Speaking of Pina Bausch – I hear she had a great influence on you. Tell me about epiphany you had when you first saw her work.

PZ: OK, let’s be a little melancholic or nostalgic for a moment [laughs]. As long as I can remember, I’ve always been performing: I studied piano, then I became a child star on a popular kids’ TV series. But nobody in my family danced or showed any interest in this particular field. I discovered dance by accident. When I was in my teens and still living in Communist Czechoslovakia, I joined an amateur modern dance company, based at the local cultural center. The quality of these companies was very high in terms of technique and production values. The venue where my company was training had a 600-seat theater, gorgeous, with a huge stage. In 1987, Pina Bausch came to Czechoslovakia and she visited only two cities: Prague, and then my home town, Kosice, Slovakia’s second-largest city. She ended up performing with her company at the theater where we were based. We all came to watch them work. Pina came out during the rehearsal and she talked to us. She was very approachable, very laid back. She was really upset that nobody came to rehearsal in Prague. They rehearsed for a day, and the next day performed two of their best shows — Café Müller and The Rite of Spring. After they’d finished, there was a twenty-minute standing ovation. At the time I was sixteen years old, and had never been out of the country before… And then I saw this. Of course, in many ways it was a foreign language to me — especially Café Müller , I didn’t know what to think of it — but I was hugely affected by it emotionally. For three days, I was walking around on a high. I was impressed by how powerful that experience was, how much could be expressed without saying a single word. It was around that time when I started thinking that I could imagine myself doing this sort of thing full time. I would say this awakened me to other theatrical genres. I also found a lot inspiration outside the dance world — especially in cinema and the visual arts. I think visual imagery is particularly important and inspiring for me.

MF: How would you describe your own style?

PZ: Some words that describe it would be: enigmatic; mysterious, but particular. It usually resonates emotionally; it’s not just movement onstage or just an image. I love theater that pulls you in, that punches you in the gut. In pieces like that there is something recognizable, a certain familiarity— and yet it is not within your grasp; it’s hard to put your finger on what happened during the show. How would this ideal approach manifest itself? Once, we had an older lady in the audience, she was actually the grandmother of one of my performers. She was eighty-something. And after the show she came up to me and said: I didn’t understand it, but I know what it was about. She’d followed it, it had resonated with her, she’d been completely with us — yet she couldn’t put her finger on what or why.

People usually try to analyze experiences right from the start, and get frustrated if they can’t do it easily. I compare my preferred way of looking at my work to taking a bath. My ideal audience member is somebody who immerses themselves in the experience of the show without immediately trying to dissect it. You can’t have an experience while constantly poking around at things in your head; it pulls you away from the experience. It comes to people much more easily with music: they aren’t trying to immediately grasp what it means or says. They let it wash over them and either go with it, or resist it. For me, this is an experience.

MF: Is that a transformative experience? What does it do to the audience?

PZ: I hope it transforms them somehow… I hope they leave the theater a little differently from how they got there. And I think expanding their awareness is the ultimate transformation. One of the methods I consciously apply in achieving this is unpredictability. That’s where different elements come into play and each element is used in an unexpected way, so it keeps awakening you to what’s happening on stage. For example — this actually happened, and it was a key to one of the shows, Blind Spot. I was already working on the show, but it was very early in the process, we hadn’t started working with the dancers yet. There was one dancer I‘d approached for the project — we were talking, nothing was finalized. I landed at JFK and I got a voice mail saying he’d passed away while I was in Europe. He was forty. I remember sitting on the subway and, all of a sudden, all these details came into focus, who was sitting across from me, suddenly everything was so vivid; it awakens you, awakens your senses, awakens you to life. I hope to give the audience that kind of experience. Sometimes the response we get from people after the show is that they’re leaving feeling like they want to do something. I don’t know what it might be – maybe save the world? [laughs] Maybe what they saw moved them to action.

MF: How important is the audience for you?

PZ: Very, very important. I tell my dancers before every show: We had a fantastic show yesterday — but today is a different show. Don’t try to recreate what worked yesterday. It’s a different audience, different energy. For me, it’s a kind of communion when you’re coming together in that experience of live performance, sharing it with the audience. You’re proposing something, but in the end it’s not an absolute; it’s not a one-way communication. I try to make the performers take cues from the audience. How do I know what these cues are? Partially, it comes with onstage experience, but it’s mostly intuitive. Ideally it creates a feedback loop: you propose something, you’re giving something to the audience and you feel the energy in return. And then there are shows where it’s hard work, where you feel the audience is watching from a distance and you have to work twice as hard to reach them, or to connect with them.

MF: It’s amazing you can sense it. It’s pretty mysterious. How do you know? Do you look at their faces?

PZ: No. You feel it. You can’t actually see people’s faces from the stage; you just sense it. But getting back to the relationship with the audience, and the subject of unpredictability, or how to keep audience’s senses awake. There are certain assumptions about how live performance should work: everybody sits in their seats, the curtain goes up, then something happens — and then you clap and go home. I love to question that scenario. Especially in The Painted Bird trilogy, I’ve played with how each part is framed. In Bastard, we have a traditional proscenium stage theater with the audience in their seats; but then there’s a scene towards the end when a large group of performers appears on stage and right then the house lights go up, the audience is lit — as to ask: who’s looking at whom here, where is the stage and who is the audience? In Part II, Amidst, the setup is a black box with no seats; the audience enters onto the stage and can move around as the three dancers and three musicians perform in the midst of them. And then Part III, Strange Cargo, also takes place in a black box — but the audience is seated on either side, facing or mirroring one another, tennis court style — and the stage is in between them. What I love about playing with the theatrical framing of the performance is that the audience is entering the space and they don’t quite know what the rules are. This was one of the themes in Kosiński’s book, where the boy is traveling from village to village and always lands in a new environment, where the rules are unknown to him. I wanted to create that sense of unpredictability, or sense of displacement, in the audience.

MF: Was that your only piece using that kind of approach?

PZ: Another related experiment was HALT!, a site-specific work we did in 2009 at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. Basically, you had three dancers appearing among regular people waiting for the ferry. There was an announcement about this on our website, some people were coming to see a show – but many of the people present were just regular commuters, who didn’t know what was going to happen. The performance was a 30-minute loop, repeated in a coordinated way with the ferry departures. People who knew about it could download five different soundtracks, and they could pick one, listen to the music on their iPods and watch the environment around them with dancers eventually appearing in that space. Most people, though, couldn’t hear any music. The commuters gathering for the ferry became a backdrop, or a set, for the piece. When it was over, I got a really lovely email. A woman wrote to me and said: I knew about the show, and I came to see it — and suddenly, everything in that terminal was choreographed! [laughs] There was a couple getting their wedding pictures taken. Where did you get them from? Or a pigeon flying in… And then I left and I was on the subway — and it continued! I think that's what I want to do each time – open people’s senses, or shift their perceptions.

MF: Let’s talk about your aesthetics: it seems like in most of the productions you’ve done your aesthetics – or the stage décor of your productions — are very minimal.

PZ: The more I work, the more I’m drawn to abstraction and reduction. I find it very interesting to explore how much can be subtracted from an image without it losing its potency —that’s definitely something that excites me. I would say the first project where I consciously followed this path was Bastard; the latest piece we did, Endangered Pieces, was also very simple on the outside and yet complex underneath.

Simplicity and reduction don’t necessarily mean the result will be neat and clean; it can be a one-minute freak-out on stage, and just that, followed by something that frames and defines it. So by simplicity and reduction I mean something that can be compared to making stock in cooking. It can be the flavor, it can be anything, really. But it means you don’t need much of it and you get the essence of everything that went into it.

Another interesting thing happened on the latest piece we did, Endangered Pieces. It was produced on the smallest budget we’d ever had – and I decided to embrace it rather than pretend it wasn’t so small. With no budget for the set, we decided to just work with what we could find, what was universally in theaters that we could use. We presented the show at Abrons Art Center, which has a wonderful stage; it has velvet-covered seats, a velvet curtain. So we embraced that — and we played with what was already in place: the curtain became a part of the set, the fly system there became part of the set. And when we were playing around, at one point I told the dancers to play with whatever they could find for three hours. They started to bring in these wooden planks from the carpentry workshop in the back, and these four-by-eights actually ended up in the show. There is an entire scene with this wood — all of a sudden it turned out to be so effective for where the show was heading. If it hadn’t been for the lack of money, I would have never thought of using four-by-eights in the show.

MF: Did you ever experience a moment – especially when things seem so unsure — when you feel: “holy shit, this is a failure?”

PZ: I think the moments when you think this might potentially be the shittiest idea ever or the most brilliant idea ever, you’re onto something. I think with age I’m little less eager to discard things too quickly. There are moments, an idea or something onstage where, when you state them for long enough they become something even more substantial. I think it’s important to stay with things for a while; sometimes you don’t have that comfort because of time constraints. But I also try to encourage the dancers not to be quick to judge anything; it can also be their attitude towards the material. But on the other hand, there’s this constant self-doubt. Not just about the work — about myself, about what I’m doing.

MF: What is your way of clearing your mind in moments like this?

PZ: I do a lot of drinking [laughs]. Mostly good gin and tonic. Tanqueray Ten is my top choice. But seriously — I find a lot of comfort in my collaborators as well. I think it’s their trust in me that gives me space not to be afraid of trying things or, or to stay with things. I think I was too quick to discard things when I was younger and too quick to please.

MF: I found something very cool in your bio. You have a degree in business?

PZ: Yes, I studied at business school and I got my MBA back in Czechoslovakia. I don’t regret studying it; I was and am very interested in marketing and advertising. To this day, I think it’s good for an artist to have a taste of that. It’s not only useful; it’s necessary. To run a successful company you need to know about business. You can’t be just artist. It doesn’t work that way anymore. I don’t believe that if you’re good enough and you’re producing interesting work somebody will find you. I don’t think that’s true. You have to work on the business side of things.

Also, dealing with the business part of production teaches you leadership and project management. It throws you into the deep end whether you like it or not, and rather than fighting it I try to embrace it. There’s a beautiful story told by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, the artists known for wrapping buildings. People ought they would just walk into the mayor’s office and it’s a done deal; meanwhile, as they explained, some of their projects took six, seven or more years of negotiation and paperwork. They used to think that those negotiations were a necessary evil but then they actually learned to embrace them and see where that process was leading the piece, because it is part of the process. This is the way I try to look at it too.

Also, a business approach can be very helpful when trying to work out new ways a project can be supported, financed or promoted. Do you know a cosmetics company called Aesop? It’s an Australian company, with six locations in New York and on the West Coast: a high quality product, organic ingredients, and so on. They were handing out some samples and I love their products so I took some. At home, I opened the packaging and discovered they’re working in collaboration with a publishing house in Paris which is run by American expat writers. So the samples were promoting not just their product, but also that collaboration. Their Chelsea location is like a laboratory for collaboration. I think we’re part of a — I don’t want to say a trend, because I hate the suggestion that we all are just following trends — but I think it illustrates well what’s happening in our society: there is this need, or a desire, to base innovation and creativity on placing two existing elements together in a combination that nobody has ever thought of before.

MF: Are you competitive?

PZ: I think I’m demanding of myself and others… But am I competitive? Oh, that leads to something that might sound a bit like Matthew McConaughey’s “My hero is me in ten years” — real humble, right? [laughs] I hate comparisons; they’ve tended to block me in the past, they still freeze me up. So I don’t like competitiveness in the sense of comparing myself to others.

MF: If you could have completely unlimited resources to create a show, and plenty of time to execute it — what it would be?

PZ: I would love to create a piece with a massive number of performers – like two hundred performers, in a cavernous space like the Park Avenue Armory.

MF: Which artist you would like to work with if you could pick anyone? Is there one person, it doesn’t have to be a dancer.

I would love to work with the sound artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller. Their sound installation work ventures into architecture and almost a cinematic world. I feel kinship for their sensibilities and their ability to alter the audience’s perception, transporting them, creating an alternate world which is inviting, but not intrusive.

I’d love to work with the fashion designer Gareth Pugh. I’m inspired by his sense of drama, turning the volume way up, in one note hitting the otherworldly and the familiar. His use of texture and materials draws me in in a surprising way, and his work speaks to me through its subtlety as a powerful statement.

I would love to work with Tilda Swinton. I don’t think I need to explain why. [laughs]


Special thanks for Palissmo's communication consultant Kamila Slawinski.

Photocredits: Yi-Chun Wu, Robert Flynt, Jeff Woodward


BASTARD (The Painted Bird: Part I) from Palissimo on Vimeo.

AMIDST (The Painted Bird: Part II) from Palissimo on Vimeo.

Amidst is the second installment of The Painted Bird Trilogy. A live performance and animated video/visual installation, Amidst tackles themes of displacement, otherness and transformation. Amidst premiered at Baryshnikov Arts Center in June 2011. The complete four hour trilogy cycle The Painted Bird (Bastard / Amidst / Strange Cargo) premiered at Wexner Center for the Arts in September 2012 and in NYC at LaMama in June 2013.

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