Dancer Paul Zusi joined Kansas City Ballet for the 2021-2022 Season, but he didn’t move here alone. For the Zusi brothers, ballet is a family affair.
Q: TELL US A BIT ABOUT WHEN YOU BECAME INTERESTED IN BALLET?
A: I first started dancing at age 6, when my mom put me and my siblings into dance classes. My mom always had a passion for dance, but never had an opportunity to start taking ballet classes regularly until she was a young adult. She knew how much of a blessing it was in her life, and so she got us started as soon as she could. I also played various sports such as soccer, baseball, basketball, and track throughout my childhood and high school years, but once the schedules for each discipline became too demanding to continue with all of them at the same time, I chose to continue with ballet and have certainly not regretted the decision!
Q: WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT DANCING?
A: I believe that dance, as a general body of art, poses an enormous athletic challenge to any who are willing to include it in their lives. This is what drew me more to dance than to any of the sports that I was playing. I fell in love with the sheer difficulty of the physical challenge, which was more intense than any of the sports that I participated in when I was young. Also, even as a young kid, I have always been particularly moved by beauty and its physical expression, and dance offered that as an objective to strive towards. If you add the physical challenge of ballet to its artistic expression of beauty, you can see why it was almost inevitable that I chose to devote my life to ballet.
Q: YOUR BROTHER JOINED THE SECOND COMPANY THIS SEASON. HOW DID YOU REACT?
A: I was ecstatic when I heard that my younger brother, Ben, had received a Second Company contract here. I, myself, had just received my KCB contract a couple weeks earlier, and had advised Ben to include them in his list of auditions. Living with Ben has proved to be a blessing. It has been fun to navigate the challenges of a new city with him, especially because this is his first year away from home. Ben has always been a very talented dancer, and he has the work ethic to push him far in his career. As the older brother, I feel the pressure of a talented younger brother nipping at my heels!
Q: WHAT ARE YOUR INTERESTS OUTSIDE OF THE STUDIO?
A: I still enjoy many sports, including but certainly not limited to: baseball, football, basketball, soccer, and tennis. With four siblings, I love talking to them for hours on end and playing video games, especially with my brothers, Tom and Ben. Also, I enjoy reading history and historical fiction, learning about space and astronomical mysteries and theories, and watching action movies.
Q: WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT KANSAS CITY?
A: I thoroughly enjoy the openness of the city. Nothing feels too crowded, and the sky is big. You can almost always see the sunset from wherever you are, and there aren’t too many skyscrapers blocking your view. Finally, I enjoy the historical monuments and architecture that compliment the city. These sites provide some of the most beautiful scenery and history that I have experienced, and I love spending my time exploring all the different pieces of history that Kansas City has to offer.
Header photograph by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.