Custodians of Beauty


A Palissimo Company production, co-commissioned by Walker Art Center, New York Live Arts, American Dance Institute and Legion Arts. Zuštiak’s new work merges dance, live music and visual arts and continues his acclaimed working relationship with composer/musician Christian Frederickson and lighting designer Joe Levasseur.  

For decades in the humanities, various arguments have been put forward against beauty. Where do we find beauty today and does it need our defense?

Custodians of Beauty, the new work of Pavel Zustiak and his Palissimo Company continues an exploration begun in his previous work, Endangered Pieces, forging towards abstraction, minimalism, and restrained expressive modes while amplifying potency of an image; human body as sculpture, emotional trigger, or a political symbol. 

In an age when humanity, disenchanted with itself, seems to have rejected the necessity of beauty, Custodians of Beauty asks us to look again, beyond the surface, to see differently.

Context Notes by Jeremy Barker
Context Notes by Melanie George
Interview with Pavel Zuštiak at Walker Art Center

Custodians of Beauty tells no stories. It is a dance of images. You watch them recur, but they’re not the same as they were before. They hint at meanings that vanish when the lights go out. You sense something that is not there hovering beneath what is there. Yet what is before you holds—compels— your attention. If this rich, yet pared-down dance were a meal, you’d receive a few sips of fine wine, a slice of warm bread, and a handful of freshly picked berries, and you’d go home feeling full.
Deborah Jowitt, ARTSJOURNAL

These contrasting images create tectonic shifts in my own body. I surrender to their persistent and provocative beauty, my attention rapt with images unfolding onstage. And equally, there is the consistent reminder of my own presence, my own sensory existence and temporal and spatial positioning.

World premiere: American Dance Institute, November 20-21, 2015
NYC Premiere: New York Live Arts, December 2-5, 2015

Concept, Direction, Choreography: Pavel Zuštiak; Performers: Nicholas Bruder, Emma Judkins, Justin MorrisonOriginal Music: Christian FredericksonLighting Design: Joe LevasseurSet Design: Simon HardingCostume Design: Ásta Bennie HostetterDramaturgy: Megan Carter, Text: Alexandra Collier.

Custodians of Beauty is commissioned by New York Live Arts for its 50 & Change Commission series with support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Its world premiere was at American Dance Institute (ADI) as part of ADI’s Incubator program.

Custodians of Beauty is supported by Jerome Foundation. It is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. 

Custodians of Beauty is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Project co-commissioned by New York Live Arts in partnership with Walker Art Center, Legion Arts, and NPN. The Creation Fund is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency). The Forth Fund is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. For more information: 

Custodians of Beauty was developed as part of Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Process Space artist residency program and in creative residencies at Walker Art Center and Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts in Minneapolis. Pavel Zuštiak researched, developed and honed Custodians of Beauty with financial, administrative and residency support from the Dance in Process Program at Gibney Dance. Additional resources for Custodians of Beauty were received through Materials for the Arts.

Palissimo Company

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