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EDITOR: Andrea Kirk
MIGUEL GUTIERREZ - HEAVENS WHAT HAVE I DONE
By Kelly Hargraves
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Miguel Gutierrez is charming, intelligent and beguiling.
Co-presented by Show Box L.A. and Blankenship Ballet at the Alexandria Hotel in a two part format (once like a visit to his studio, but more personal and the second the “performance”) HEAVENS WHAT HAVE I DONE has Gutierrez dress and undress the performance medium for us—explaining each bit we see while simultaneously making clear it all means little.
His casual straight talk attitude is so refreshing. Beginning in the most casual of ways, like a substitute teacher walking into a classroom, trying to make you feel comfortable with him before he begins to “teach.” Chairs are facing one way but he asks us to move them to the opposite end of the room. Accompanied by the classical singing of renowned soprano Cecilia Bartoli, he sets up the space, with paper, equipment, costumes and a plethora of objects from bags and knapsacks that litter the floor, Gutierrez unleashes a rapid fire, manic monologue that is part lecture-demo, part stand-up comedy and all personally engaging,
Once in costume—a rainbow colored pantaloon and “vest” combo with a Marie Antoinette wig and white painted face---MG turns to a mike and begins to sing to his tale, more of lament. The “dance’ is another way of putting it all out there as he thrusts across the stage and flails onto the floor amongst the debris. Then he cuts through the audience to do a few passes across the floor that are more structured with turns and lunges that repeat.
The most telling spoken statement, amongst many about ancient Greek philosophy (a bunch of gays sitting around talking about their lovers); Euro modern dance (erasing the self from the dancing body); and French people (no comment), is this: “I didn’t become an artist to make sense.”
And with that, we are all free to just watch and enjoy the sideshow that is the person of MG. Acutely aware of every little pin and needle he has dropped on stage and on us. Although outside the general realm of what we consider “dance” and not necessarily as provocative as a performance artist might be expected to be.
Thank gawd this dancer has opened his mouth, dropped the character, removed the mask. Guttierez has worked in a number of media to get his message across which is, that this is stuff that matter now. Often when artists take to a message it comes off as a campaign. But there is an honest casualness to all this, perhaps so well rehearsed it just seems so. You feel welcomed into this mans studio of a mind to watch it ALL take place, take shape and form.
He has even written a book WHEN YOU RISE UP, a collection of his performance writings, which is now on my summer reading list.
--Kelly Hargraves (eyespylareviews[at]gmail.com
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