2013 Lab Artist: Pavel Zuštiak / Palissimo

About Pavel Zuštiak


Pavel Zuštiak believes that the theatre offers a refuge where audiences and artists both seek a haven of solace and enter an arena of disquieting questions. Born in the former Czechoslovakia, Zuštiak is currently based in NYC where he is the artistic director of Palissimo, a dance theatre company that he founded in 2003. With Palissimo, Zuštiak has created bold and innovative performance works that integrate sound, set design, dance and video. In 2007, Zuštiak was awarded a prestigious Princess Grace Choreography Award to support his collaboration with Laboratory Company Dance in Pittsburgh, PA, and most recently he was nominated for a Bessie award for The Painted Bird triology – a collection of evening-length works that excavated the themes of displacement, otherness and transformation.

In 2013, Endangered Pieces was Zuštiak’s latest project in development, a work that unfolded in a series of dream-like scenes set amidst a looming calamity. A man in an empty space: in a field, onstage, in combat. Is this his ultimate battle and can it be won? Throughout, the visceral trumped the literal, and left visual impressions, both alluring and unsettling, that lingered and gestated in the subconscious. The work was created in response to unprecedented shifts in the global landscape. Zuštiak worked in VPL’s Lab with his longtime collaborator composer/musician Christian Frederickson, musician Bobby McElver and dancers Matthew Rogers and Jaro Vinarsky to develop the sonic environments and movement material for live performance.

Check out Pavel's IN THE NEWS

This VPL residency is produced in association with Guilford Sound, and made possible with the generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts and VPL’s Creation Fund donors.

Cooking with Pavel

Cooking with Pavel Zuštiak at VPL's Performance Club

Pavel cooking edited-1

PAVEL'S KAPUTNICA: A Traditional Christmas Soup 

(serves 4)

Ham hock (about 150g/ .33 pounds)
Sauerkraut (2 cups/400g/.45 pounds)
Garlic (2 smaller cloves)
Black pepper – 1 tsp
Allspice or Nutmeg – 1/2 tsp
Bay leaves – 2
Marjoram or thyme – 2 tsp
Dried porcini mushrooms (you can substitute with fresh baby portabellas sauté before adding to the soup) – handful (50 g, 0.1)
Onion – 2 small or 1 large
Prunes – about 8
Sausage – 1-2 large Hungarian or Polish style paprika sausage
Sweet Smoked Hungarian Paprika (or sweet smoked paprika) – 2 tsp
Sour cream or heavy cream
Farmer bread

For meatballs:
1 medium onion
1 egg
.5 pound of minced pork or chicken
Lemon – 1 small
Bread crumbs – ½ cup or more to get the right consistence

In a large pot sauté chopped onions and garlic in a little bit of olive. When it starts to brown, add paprika, stir and add 2 cups of water. Add sauerkraut, ham hocks, black pepper, allspice or nutmeg, bay leaves, marjoram or thyme, prunes.

Cut sausage into ¼ inch thick slices and in a separate pan sauté. Brown and then add to the soup.
Sauté fresh baby poratbella's with a little bit of olive oil till they soften and release juices. If working with dry porcini mushrooms (this is how the soup is traditionally made), place them in a bowl and soften with hot boiling water so that they soften and release juices then add to the soup – both the mushrooms and the juice. You can alternatively add cut yellow potatoes into the soup. Add enough water so that it covers all ingredients.

For chicken meatballs:
Sauté 1 chopped yellow onion in a drizzle of olive oil till brown.

Remove from heat and then mix with ½ pound of ground chicken, 1 egg, bread crumbs (about 1/2 cup – you can add more as you go but you are working towards soft but not too thick consistency), juice from 1 small lemon, and fresh herbs like thyme or marjoram.

Mix with your hands and create small balls that you sauté in a pan so that they get crispy. Do not worry about the center being cooked through – it will cook in the soup where you add them.

Let the soup simmer on the stove for about an hour. It should have deep dark red color, smoky flavor from the sausage, ham and paprika and acidity from sauerkraut.

When served you can add little bit of heavy cream or sour cream to cut through the acidity of the soup. If you serve with toasted farmer's bread you can place it in a plate and pour soup over the bread.

Dobrú chuť! (Bon appetite!)

Since 2006, VPL has hosted over 80 residencies