Oct 19, 2023
Oct 22, 2023


Creative team: Pavel Zuštiak, Keith Skretch, Christian Frederickson, Masha Tsimring

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PALISSIMO Company’s 20th Anniversary Season
NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts Commission

"What do you gain from all your work?”
An interdisciplinary performance on fleeting nature of human ambition, embodied presence, and meaning.  


As Zuštiak enters a pivotal phase in his career, HEBEL offers an enticing exploration of life's everyday moments. The work’s title "HEBEL" comes from the ancient Book of Ecclesiastes and resonates with themes of vanity, futility, and ephemerality, reminiscent of the phrase: "vanity of vanities; all is vanity." The term has been interpreted as "futile" and "meaningless" but also as "breath," "vapor," and "mist"—a paradox that encapsulates Zuštiak’s retrospection at this junction after two decades of artmaking in NYC. HEBEL features Christine Bonansea, Wendell Gray II, Emma, Judkins and Doug LeCours and delves deep into the transient nature of human endeavors, life, and the ephemeral essence of live art.

Originally set to debut at NYU Skirball in April 2020, HEBEL's journey has been as unpredictable as the themes it embodies. Following previews at the Baryshnikov Arts Center and MIT, the global onset of the Covid pandemic brought the world to a standstill, mere weeks before its premiere. After numerous rescheduling attempts and eventual cancellation, including all NYU Skirball shows affected by the pandemic, HEBEL found its new home for its premiere at La MaMa.

HEBEL is the result of a collaborative effort between Zuštiak and renowned designers: scenographer Keith Skretch, composer Christian Frederickson and lighting designer Masha Tsimring. Pushing the boundaries of traditional dance, HEBEL, presented in three captivating scenes, showcases Skretch's original performative scenography. The centerpiece, a large-scale programmable kinetic object, blurs the lines between choreography, sculpture, and machine art, encapsulating the fleeting beauty of live performance in its “dance” that is at once familiar and otherworldly.

Similarly to Zuštiak’s previous works HEBEL stands out as interdisciplinary, rich in visuals and brimming with surprises. It challenges the audience to ponder human aspirations and the transient nature of life and achievements. What remains eternal, and what fades away?

La MaMa is set to host only four exclusive performances of HEBEL. An experience not to be missed. Secure your seats now.

Concept, Direction, Choreography and Costume Design: Pavel Zuštiak
Created in collaboration with performers: Christine Bonansea, Wendell Gray II, Emma Judkins, Doug LeCours
Original Music and Sound Design: Christian Frederickson
Scenography: Keith Skretch
Lighting Design: Masha Tsimring
Set Construction: Joseph Silovsky Studios, Ryan Holsopple
Production Manager: George Del Barrio


HEBEL is a PALISSIMO production, presented by La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, and commissioned by the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. HEBEL was developed in part during a residency at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, NYC and awarded through the Princess Grace Foundation-USA Works in Progress residency program. HEBEL was researched, developed and honed with financial, administrative and residency support from Dance in Process at Gibney with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; created with the support of a Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship; supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, by the Lake Placid Center for the Arts, Lake Placid, NY and Harkness Foundation for Dance; and funded in part by the Council for the Arts at MIT. HEBEL was made possible through a 2019 Movement Research Residency, funded by the Scherman Foundation’s Katharine S. and Axel G. Rosin Fund and supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Additionally, HEBEL was made possible with support from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, and Mertz Gilmore Foundation. Production design support provided by the Edith Lutyens and Norman Bel Geddes Design Enhancement Fund, a program of the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York (A.R.T./New York). The music was commissioned by the Charles and Joan Gross Family Foundation.

This project was supported in part by a Late Stage Stipend grant from the Mertz Gilmore Foundation.

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