A Weekend of Dance Experiments
Originally published in SunPost on March 31, 2011 Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People’s performance of the Last Meadow this past weekend was one of the most confronting performances I’ve seen. Fresh off the plane after a week on the beaches and rainforests of Puerto Rico, I touch ground and find myself at the Colony Theater squirming and scowling. I am chest deep in a liver detox, preparing for my Saturday night performance of a work-in-progress piece titled “Dancing with my liver.” I thought I had worked through all of the anger, fear, and darkness that I could bear until I entered Last Meadow. This performance — part of the excellent Miami-Dade County Cultural Affairs Department’s Cultura del Lobo series, which has been bringing in challenging and off-beat offerings for some time now — examines pop culture and Americana through James Dean and three of his films. Incorporating a gender bending, often absurdist approach, the three main characters/dancers take the audience to a strange and obsessive world, a world of waiting, wanting and concepts that were drawn out to excess with exhaustively long stretches of dialogue, stage business, and pantomime –where small segments of movement provided relief and felt like a self-indulgent afterthought. I can’t say the piece wasn’t compelling or interesting, but its anger, frustration, and success at creating a meta dual reality simply made my liver hurt. The following night I performed for “The Spoken Soul Festival,” which was part of International SWAN day (Supporting Women Artists Now) — that takes place all over the world. My movement poem bridged the world of archetype, metaphor, bellydance, and Yoruban storytelling through an extemporaneous journey into my liver and hips. It was risky, but after the darkness and sadness the audience was afforded the rhythmic dénouement, which is necessary to give performance a transformative and universal relevance.