Friday, January 6, 2017

APAP SEASON CHOICES: Pavel Zuštiak/Palissimo

Members of Pavel Zuštiak/Palissimo
perform Custodians of Beauty
(photo: Maria Baranova)

At some point in a dance work by Pavel Zuštiak (Pavel Zuštiak/Palissimo), you will find yourself physically, helplessly connected to the surreal, demanding goings-on. In Custodians of Beauty, for instance, you might be chosen to literally occupy the floor for a stretch of time that feels like it's stretching on forever. On another occasion, you might remain in your seat--safe, you'd think, until you notice your ears assaulted by high-pitched sound or your heart racing from the speeding visuals and sonic thunder. Or, in BASTARD / The Painted Bird: Part 1, you might "see" the likes of yourself in a crowd of "just folks" picked up locally by Zuštiak, merged with his professionals and coached into miraculous efficacy as a team. "That's me over there," you think as you feel yourself first saunter then pelt through space, just missing collisions with others in near-chaos, then placidly lowering your body to the floor, again and again and again. The theatrical veil between the worlds, as conceived by Zuštiak, is always gossamer-thin and, ultimately, ripped aside. You have pressed close to some kind of edge and its dangers. You have glimpsed something you cannot name.

This week, La MaMa is reviving Bastard, first seen in the US at this theater in 2010, and PS 122 is presenting Custodians of Beauty at La MaMa as part of its COIL Festival. Both offer concentrated immersion into the world of this bold, Slovak-American dancemaker, a multiple award winner, who gets that theater's power is in the way artists' and audiences' bodies dream together. And if I haven't already sent you running for cover, let me encourage you to step to La MaMa for this opportunity to be moved, to be affected, to be transformed by dance with music by Christian Frederickson and lighting by Joe Levasseur, both master craftsmen in demand and frequent Zuštiak collaborators. Dancer Jaro Viňarský reprises his 2013 Bessie-winning role as the soloist/persecuted outsider in Bastard, inspired by Jerzy Kosiński’s novel, The Painted Bird. In making Bastard, Zuštiak might have been thinking of his own identity as an immigrant to an overwhelming, not always congenial new land and his struggles to make and sustain art. But Bastard returns to us now in a time of heightened social relevance.

Remaining performances of BASTARD / The Painted Bird: Part 1 run tonight at 8pm; Saturday at 2:30pm and Sunday at 6:30pm. Running Time: 75 minutes. For information on this and other La MaMa events, click here.

Remaining performances of Custodians of Beauty run today at 5pm, Saturday at 5:30pm and Sunday at 2pm. Run time: 85 minutes. For information and tickets for this and other COIL Festival events, click here.

La MaMa
(The Downstairs)
66 East 4th Street, 2nd Floor (between Bowery and 2nd Avenues), Manhattan

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