Internationally-renowned Latinx choreographer Miguel Gutierrez proudly joins a legacy of process-focused experimental artists and truth-telling queer and POC folx who take issue with propriety because their lives exist beyond polite speech.
Miguel Gutierrez’s latest piece, I as another (2022), takes place in a future/present dystopia and explores the virtual architecture of memory, what it means to be alongside one another, and how existential despair has come into public view. It will receive its New York premiere May 4-7 at the Baryshnikov Arts Center.
Queer Forty chatted to Gutierrez about queer experimental performance art, his process of creating empathetic and irreverent spaces outside of traditional discourse, Latinx and queer identity, and how he makes choreography that explores the limits of representation for radicalized bodies, queer kinship and desire.
Can you tell us how you identify? Gender, orientation, and please comment on Latinx identity.
Miguel Gutierrez: I identify as a middle-aged cis male body animated by a youthful, salty multi-gender energy. I am an American born child of Colombian immigrants. My class privilege grew as my parents’ economic fortunes did, which also means that I had access to a well-minted education. My sense of myself as a queer, Latinx person is shaped both by happenstance of birth and by the chosen community that I have placed myself in proximity to.
I as another will grace the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York City in May. But where do you call home?
Miguel Gutierrez: Home is usually wherever my boyfriend is and in the multiple places I live or where my family lives: Brooklyn, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Boca Raton.
What was the inspiration for I as another?
Miguel Gutierrez: I had a residency through Movement Research which gave me the opportunity spend a lot of time by myself in the studio, confused and lonely as we entered the second year of the pandemic. I was reading Edouard Glissant’s Caribbean Discourse, which introduced me to his concepts of opacity and “Relation” (the capital R is intentional). He writes in a post colonial context about the inherent agency in claiming opacity — that colonized peoples retain the right not to be “understood” by the colonizers. He extends it further even to talk about how people can be unknowable to themselves. He writes about the strangeness of Relation, what it is for two disparate cultures to live alongside each other. Loneliness, connection, distance, proximity, unknowing, these were the kinds of things I was thinking and reading about when I invited young dance artist Laila Franklin into the room and we went from there.
Can you let us in on some of the processes in developing the work?
Miguel Gutierrez: Laila is very smart and easy to unload a lot of different ideas onto so we started there. The first couple days of rehearsal I recorded us having intentionally vague conversations where we asked and answered a series of questions that we posed to each other. We had the option to not answer truthfully. I encouraged us to find a gestural language that accompanied but not demonstrated the words we said. From there we explored a variety of improvisational practices that I like to do – one person dances, the other “responds” through dancing, or moving together fast and erratically so that you can’t get caught up planning your moves.
For more information about I as another and to get tickets, go here.