Miguel Gutierrez's life as Marie Antoinette | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Miguel Gutierrez's life as Marie Antoinette 

The dancer fights minimalism with excess, spectacle, and an enormous wig.

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Miguel Gutierrez

Miguel Gutierrez

Ian Douglas

New York-based dancer Miguel Gutierrez's latest manifesto against monoconceptual art, Heavens What Have I Done, says to hell with minimalism's slick appeal. Gutierrez's aesthetic dispenses with neat, simple, conveniently inscrutable ideas. With his love of grand spectacle and disguise, he's more like the Wizard of Oz.

But unlike the wizard, for whom exposure means the gig is up, Gutierrez willingly trots out the nitty-gritty secrets of his art. In white pancake makeup, a lipstick rosebud mouth, and fake eyelashes, he intermittently chucks paraphernalia from a suitcase and strips to pull on the rest of his costume, while rattling through a beguilingly self-conscious, self-doubting, self-loathing monologue, which doubles as an origin myth for a 40-year-old dilettante-cum-West Village hipster. An entire lifetime in miniature emerges in 25 minutes, well stocked with anecdotes, aphorisms, rebukes, Zen advice, back pain, and even some pet theories on the intersections of neurology and UFOs.

Once he's fully in costume, Gutierrez becomes a sticky, sweet, sweaty Marie Antoinette cookie dipped in rainbow sprinkles, mocking his earlier monologue until he falls to the floor.

He's committed to fighting minimalism with excess, and, by heaven, that's what he's done here. In his chatty stand-up, his barrage of opinions is purely choreographic; as with the dance, incoherence and chaos are always primary. I retain a vibrating image of Gutierrez staggering and shimmying till his Marie Antoinette wig tumbles off his head. It looks like a decapitation; the dancing itself resembles a body that has lost its captain. Produced by the self-annihilating investment in sensual and textural qualities of movement and song, the excesses within the dance seem at once deranged and detached from reason, the stuff of magical realism, which Gutierrez accepts as his legacy. "When I feel crazy," he remarks, "I should just remember I'm not crazy, I'm just Colombian."

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