Miguel Gutierrez, a dancer, performer, choreographer, poet, and musician, makes solo works and also collaborates as Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People.
The notion of “character” disinterests me because it suggests an integration, a united self, or a representation of a person. Instead what fascinates me are the nuances and fluctuations of a turbulent self: the way someone is and is not simultaneously, the multiplicity in any given body, and the virtuosity it takes to change states, approaches, actions in the blink of an eye. When I do work with the word character, I refer to it as a sense organ, our ability to perceive how we take on a character as a result of an action or as an archetype that we assume in order to expand our palette of physical or performative possibilities. I like the falsity inherent in playing a character, but my work proposes that it is one place inside a dynamic array of ways of being during the course of a time-based performance. I encourage performers I work with to be cautious when they start playing a “character” and to resist the potential for physical rigidity.
I see character as useful when it becomes a door to the plasticity we have as channelers of various versions of ourselves. I am always suspicious of solidity. I get nervous in a performance when someone appears to have no critical distance from his or her attempt to authentically be one thing. I want to create situations that embrace instability and multidirectionality. Of course we will always ascribe “character”-istics to whomever is on stage, and performers, especially dancers, are always assaulted with countless projections: “Oh, she’s pretty!” “He’s flexible!” “I didn’t like so-and-so because of [fill in the blank].” This is unavoidable. But there’s an interesting rigor in performing while resisting the idea that you know the impact of your own internal/external emotional or physical trajectory. This resistance keeps the performance from merely fulfilling a predetermined shape and hopefully jars us (performers and audience) into a spiritually vital and multivalent present.
Beth Gill, Marginal Strip, 2005.
Miguel Gutierrez, Last Meadow, 2009.
Heather Kravas, the gnome is bad, 2004.
Ralph Lemon, How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere?, 2010.
Neal Medlyn, Brave New Girl, 2010.
Sarah Michelson, Shadowmann: Part 1, 2003.
Dean Moss with Laylah Ali, figures on a field, 2005.
Yasuko Yokoshi, what we when we, 2006.