Buffalo’s Response Festival Features Bastard: The Painted Bird

Pavel Zustiak’s THE PAINTED BIRD

Year: 2017-2018
DanceForce Member: Margaret Kaiser
Artists: Pavel Zustiak, Jaro Vinarsky, Christian Frederickson
Community Partners: Torn Space Theatre, Ujima Theatre Company
Audience: 450
County: Erie

BASTARD: 2015 Bessie Award winning choreographer director Pavel Zustiak of “Bastard:The Painted Bird” presented the first part of his dance triology based upon a 1965 wartime novel by expatriate Polish writer Jerzy Kosinski as part of Torn Space Theater’s second annual Response Festival. Zustiak’s stunning use of movement and visuals abstractly recreated the allegory of a captured bird brilliantly painted and then freed to return to its flock, only to be violently rejected as a perceived interloper. The “flock” in this production was an ensemble of 22 local professionals and nonprofessionals (with some representation from Buffalo’s diverse immigrant refugee community). This unique presentation represented a three way way partnership that included two theatre companies, Torn Space Theater and Uijima Theatre Company, and the New York State Dance Force as collaborators in the second annual Response Festival. This festival, created by Torn Space Theater, is intended to feature provocative works of art that demand a response, positive or negative, from an audience. This year’s Festival highlighted work by internationally renowned artists, with BASTARD as the first and only dance piece presented. The gripping performance by the three featured artists (Pavel Zustiak, Jaro, & Christian ) in BASTARD was enhanced by the participation of the 22 person ensemble (“flock”). The planning process for this project began in January and included the partnership team attending a rehearsal and performance of BASTARD in Albany in February. This preview experience, made possible by support from DF member Ivan Sygoda, in cooperation with DF member Kim Engels, provided clarity for the partnership team and served to solidify funding from a local foundation for this second annual Festival. From February through July the partners were in direct communication about roles and responsibilities, as well as agreed upon wording for marketing materials as pertaining to BASTARD. Pavel was especially helpful in sharing sample call out announcements for community participation in the ensemble, for which Ujima Theatre provided ongoing coordination. The ensemble represented a diverse cross section of the Buffalo community: Native American, African American, and Caucasian, as well as a mix from our vibrant refugee immigrant population. Ages ranged from 7 to 72 years. On Saturday night the audience was comprised of ensemble family members and friends, free of charge. On Sunday night, more seats had to be added for an already completely full house performance! One of the ensemble members praised Pavel during the Q & A with the audience, noting ” Pavel had only four days to make this ensemble a true working community. Some of us had stage experience, although many did not. We had such a diverse group for our ensemble, I believe we amazed ourselves how deeply we felt about our performance both as individuals and as a working ensemble!”