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BWW Reviews: Miguel Gutierrez Performs 'myendlesslove' at Abrons Art Center

I am standing in the lobby of the Underground, a tiny, lecture hall-esque venue in the basement of Henry Street Settlement on the Lower East Side, but the energy feels more like waiting at the stage door after a rock concert. The room is packed wall to wall, and the crowd is groovy and excited. Many familiar faces press together in greetings, recognitions, hugs, and noisy introductions. Simultaneously, the fluorescent lights and high cement walls make the atmosphere uncannily collegiate. The ambiance is anticipatory, but I am not certain of the best way to prepare. Should I go buy a beer or brush up on my notes? The house opens, and I feel oddly relieved.

Upon entering the small auditorium, Miguel Gutierrez is sitting with his legs crossed, elbow perched on his knee, and his hand tucked under his chin. His unplanted foot jiggles occasionally, and as the audience files in he adjusts his posture, eyes unselfconsciously taking it all in. He is so nonchalant that I half expect his friends and fans to tiptoe up to the stage for a kiss on the cheek and thanks for coming, but there is a delicately observed space for formality. This brings back the impression of a lecture hall, the main difference being that the guru we have all come to behold is in his underpants and wearing black, heeled ankle boots.

Gutierrez's (almost) solo myendlesslove begins with the lights on and ends in the kind of darkness felt by more than just the eyes. To shift myendlesslove into action, he first reaches down to pause the music coming from a CD player near him on the floor, then goes to the television set on his left and pops a VHS tape into the player. His own face appears on the screen, and a repetitive conversation ensues around the subject of what is to come: eagerness, interruption, and hotness to find out.

With intervallic thrusts of kiss-and-tell performance, myendlesslove plunges further and further into the depths of heartbreak, and it is not the kind of heartbreak that we recover from experiencing easily, even as a third party. A slapstick exterior initially camouflages its severity as Gutierrez, having shed all costume pieces except his boots, struts to different locations on the stage and whips his head and shoulders around in voracious and seductive circles to 90's club music, an action that is so simultaneously passionate and deadpan that it becomes a parody. After removing his boots and redressing otherwise, he stands center stage alternately inhaling a cigarette and blowing the smoke through a harmonica. More videos begin to take over the television sets across the stage. They are a tease, forestalling intimacy from the neck up, and that makes the audience laugh at their own preemptive uneasiness. Then there is a moment when Gutierrez loses his cool, somewhere between an emotional breakdown and an orgasm, and he leaves the room. The lights are out.

When Gutierrez re-enters, Connor Voss, who stood like a mannequin, lanky and immaculate, though the performance leading up to this point, oozes into action from his prop-like function. His demeanor is unaffected as Gutierrez hands all the power over to him without a fight. Voss manipulates the now darkened scene like a princely ghost, turning Gutierrez into a more honest version of what he appeared to be totally in control of before. When he is left, moaning and rolling in a puddle of his own urine, it seems safe to say that the haunting is more than a reflection on the past. The depth of the wound is deceptive. Just when it seems possible to trust the experience of total control, to be able to make light of the situation, accuracy takes over for dignity.

Photo by Ian Douglas

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From This Author Kayt MacMaster

Kayt MacMaster is a NYC based dancer, choreographer, dance writer, and co-founder and artistic director of a newly conceived performance company, blueprint dance project. MacMaster (read more...)