What We Feel and What We Mean
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“Meet the Artist: Miguel Gutierrez”

This past Monday, I attended the “Meet the Artist” event at Macaulay with Miguel Gutierrez. I was interested in hearing Gutierrez speak about his background in contemporary dance. He began the evening by having the students sit in a circle and close their eyes. Then, he read aloud questions relating to where we were, the surroundings, and the emotions of day. Upon opening our eyes, we discovered Gutierrez in the center of the room, performing an improvisational dance routine. This dance continued with many vocalizations, as well as audience interactions. He moved throughout the room in a series of leaps, turns, and rolls. Some students laughed at the unfamiliarity and others sat in confusion.

The evening continued with a viewing of Gutierrez’ work. One particular solo piece showed the classical movements related to several other choreographers. Gutierrez explained the meaning behind this piece, as it was composed during a time of conflict in his life. Gutierrez piece incorporated the styles of famous 80s choreographers, while blending in his own artistic creations.  He struggled with idea of originality and how it is expressed in dance. This reminded me of the previous class discussion we had on Sherrie Levine’s work (the re-photographing of Edward Weston’s photo) and how art can be created from other art. During the Question & Answer session, Gutierrez addressed the laughter of the students by noting that it is a typical reaction to unknown and new circumstances. He did not consider it an inappropriate reaction and said that it did not affect his performance. Gutierrez concluded his discussion with the question: “what is contemporary dance?” Several suggestions included: “less structured than ballet,” “freeing,” and “emotional.” I think these components contribute greatly to the definition of “contemporary dance.” I believe it is a very individual experience that is directly related to each dancer’s emotions. Overall, the event gave an interesting perspective of choreography as an art form.


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