Five Questions for Pavel Zustiak

Photo: Jeremy Lehmann

Name: Pavel Zustiak
Title/Occupation: Artistic Director, Choreographer, Sound Designer
Organization/Company: Palissimo Inc.

1. Where did you grow up and how did you end up where you are now?

I grew up in the eastern part of the former Czechoslovakia, which is now Slovakia. I studied in Canada then in Amsterdam, Netherlands before getting my green card and moving to New York City.

2. Which performance, song, play, movie, painting or other work of art had the biggest influence on you and why?

It must have been performance of Pina Bausch (Cafe Muller and Rite of Spring) when she came to my home town of Kosice in 1987. I was part of a dance company at the time that had a long-term residency at the theatre where they performed so we interacted with her and the company. I was amazed how powerful dance can be. Up to that point I was exposed to dance that strived for technical virtuosity only. For Pina art was life and life was art. Around the time of her visit I started to consider the idea to go into dance professionally.

3. What skill, talent or attribute do you most wish you had and why?

I wish I spoke more languages – French and Italian are on my list to learn for a long time. How is that saying about living as many lives as the number of languages you know?….

4. What do you do to make a living? Describe a normal day.

No two weeks are the same for me. My schedule varies wether we are in a creative process, pre-production or in the midst of performances. I am working weekends as a project manager in the presentations department at an investment bank in NYC which is the main source of my income at the moment. All activities relating with Palissimo happen during the week. Besides the Company work I am also freelancing as a choreographer and sound designer.

5. Have you ever had to make a choice between work and art? What did you choose, why, and what was the outcome?

I have received my MBA from University in Slovakia in 1993. It was time when many western companies were opening their branches in Slovakia – an ideal time for a young businessman, but I was always drawn to the world of arts and chose to study in that area before deciding between the two. After graduating from the School for New Dance Development in Amsterdam I moved to NYC, pursued career of a choreographer and a sound designer. I wish there was more financial stability for artists in the U.S. at my level but I have never regretted my decision to pursue art and my heart.


Palissimo Fundraising Event
April 26 (Monday) 2010, 7-9pm
Lyons Wier Gallery

175 Seventh Ave. (at 20th Street), New York City

Suggested donation $50 (cash or check at the door)

Please RSVP by April 20 at

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