Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful Imagery: A response by Hope Goldman

Miguel Gutierrez and Mind of Mirrors
Storing the Winter
Thalia Hall
April 19, 2016

It has been several months since I saw Storing the Winter. However, vivid images have remained with me, and therein lies the power of the piece – the continual echoes and images it conjures.

It’s as though this piece was created on a lake surrounded by mountains, and this is the first human touch it has received. Mind of Mirrors’ music sounds like a sunrise and becomes so loud that it physically resonates through my body the way it may echo across a natural landscape. It is so loud I can swim in it as Miguel does while we dances. The music and movement create an ever lasting wash of waves that hypnotize me.

This piece, though not very compelling to me in its physical manifestation, activates my brain in a unique way. I kept receiving images and metaphors from the combination of what was unfolding before me. It was a cinematic metaphor/experience/presentation of a deep/instinctual/experience of life and its grandeurs. I hate to be as simplistic as to say this piece showed an experience of the meaning of life, but I think that’s what I’m saying. And a lot of that is to do with the images of nature that I received. Mountains, forests, lakes, vistas and how humans are ever connected to these environments. There are moments where Miguel prepares for launches that never come which conveys hesitance, readiness, a dipping of the toe into the water, birth, and optimism all at once. Later, he screams – deep, guttural screams – an outpouring of the intensity of this experience of life and a return to primal. Later still, he falls repeatedly. His leg releases from under him, he falls to the ground. He gets up, his leg releases from under him, he falls to the ground. Over and over. This is the surrender to that which is larger than oneself. After the prior struggle, an acceptance, an admission of the relentless incandescence of this scape/life/body.

I don’t know quite how to articulate my lack of interest in the physical manifestation of the piece. I was not connected to Miguel’s performance. Though it was clear that there was a deep feeling of importance and vulnerability for both performers, I was not given a bridge to connect or empathize with those personal emotions. I am down with the unapologetic decision to improvise for an hour and know that your audience will watch, and also roll my eyes at it at the same time. I am simultaneously in support of and disinterested in this structure of performance and also understand that there is absolute, unwavering rigor of an ongoing, open, improvisational practice between two collaborators. I also acknowledge that it is this very practice that created this specific work full of lovely and uncorny metaphor for deep connectivity that washed through me ceaselessly, echoing the ceaselessness of the movement and music. And I also reiterate that, for me, that is the power of the piece. I hold all of these feelings/experiences/ruminations at once reflecting the complexity of all that Storing the Winter encompasses.

The title Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful Imagery is both a play on Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People (which he has used for his group work in the past) and an honor of the inherent power that his performances hold. I’ve witnessed much of his work over the years – at times moved to tears, at times disinterested. But the themes in his dances are like a more optimistic version of Charlie Kaufman’s movies. He continues to tackle the hugeness of life and what the fuck it means and how we are humans alone and with each other and shit the world is a big place but not really and time continues to slip through our fingers and you and I are here and then gone and there is an urgency to it all and everything is so chaotic and complex and beautiful and these are all the things that the work I’ve witnessed of his encompasses which is hard to pin down but I tried here.

Photo by Ian Douglas.