because the personal is cultural
Things could have gone down a more simplistic road as, at first, Gutierrez and his partner Mickey Mahar (a sprite-like cross between Sufjan Stevens and Pee-wee Herman) dance synchronously non-stop as percussive music is blasting over the speakers, barely taking a break as Mahar slips a “2, 3, 4” in before launching into yet another dance sequence. However, it’s when they finally stop that the show ironically progresses. The music keeps going, just as loud, but they stand still – much needed rest – holding hands.
When I was young, I used to believe that two people of the same sex holding hands was a political gesture. Then, when I had my first boyfriend, I realized that it wasn’t political but merely natural, that it happens without thinking or even realizing you’re doing it, that your hand searches for the one you love. What I’m saying is, people holding hands are fucking beautiful and Guttierez and Mahar are fucking beautiful.
Slowly, their heads turn towards each other and they kiss. So we guess, anyway, since one of them has his back to us, so that they could be pulling a Will Smith in Six Degrees of Separation (but we can safely assume they’re not).
And the dance starts up again, in a way that could remind one of the choreography for countless female pop singers. The movements are not difficult to execute, but they become more impressive as they accumulate, playing like a physical version of a memory game. The clarity of and work behind the movement is retroactively highlighted as the dancers switch to a different mode of performance, one that reeks of drunk clumsiness. They display the kind of behaviour where, in the moment, one might be blissfully unaware (humping a speaker, for example); it’s only once you sober up that it’s going to be embarrassing. They also fight in a way that’s more meant to annoy the other person than actually hurt them.
In the spoken section, they impressively maintain their synchronicity even as they vary their speech in most comical ways. Particularly delightful is when they say, “We are the faceless, voiceless dancers. Do you want to fuck us?”
Unfortunately, Age & Beauty Part 1 ends with its weakest section. Though it decidedly brings us in a different direction, Guttierez’s breaking into song doesn’t fit with the rest of the work. Instead, it feels like a performer’s fantasy, one that has the added drawback of putting Mahar in the background, where he doesn’t belong. Still, Guttierez remains a refreshing voice in queer performance and dance at large.
Tickets: 34$ / 30 years old and under: 28$
has an MA in Film Studies and works in contemporary dance. His fiction has appeared in Headlight Anthology, Cactus Heart, and Birkensnake.
s.verstricht [at] gmail [dot] com