Miguel Gutierrez makes performances ‘that are about things and are things themselves. The things they are about are big: how to live in the world, how to love, how to feel about being yourself’.
A few Saturday nights ago I was part of ‘Deep Aerobics (Death Electric Emo Protest)’, the participatory spectacle that was a gem in the weekend of the magnificent Fierce Festival 2015. The room had calmed after Gazelle Twin had hypnotised us with their bass-driven throbbing wall of noise and synthetic sounds. I didn’t quite know what to expect. I was reminiscing about my childhood and my mother’s multiple aerobics videos in our living room. I had walked past the ‘transformation station’ various times and then it all started to make sense.
The sound of 80s pop music filled the room and suddenly it exploded into life. I was surrounded by waves of people clad in neon and glitter, a hyper-coloured mass of bodies donning hats, masks and sweat bands gleaned from said transformation station. The workout began. Miguel conducted and instructed with a warm-up routine. People began to bounce, people became aware of their bodies and began to relinquish control of themselves. They moved in circles, they touched one another, they became a morphing sea of limbs and gestures. Miguel asked for gender to be dissolved. They undulated, they danced, they circled, they screamed. The sea of people parted, they took sides. One half of the room screeched ‘no’ to political views, the other half countered with ‘yes’ and they kept changing. A sudden surge, an overdose and a drop to the floor.
This is not your average aerobics workout. It is not just physical - it transcends a simple bodily experience. This workout is layered with concept, with imagination, with communal resistance against dominance. It is freeing and hypnotic. The participants are full of glee - freed from daily apprehensions and constraints.
I stepped back and began to think about collectivity. I began to think about this hour-long protest through dance. Miguel’s performance is about losing your inhibitions. It is about feeling yourself, being aware of where and how you live, acknowledging that your daily life is full of political control, anger, anguish and oppression. It is about touching another person to join together in protest.
There is authority in collectivity and collaboration - how the way in which we live and work together directly creates the political landscape we inhabit. The lasting refrain from the night, which I am still reciting in my head, echoes this call for people to join together. The world seems like a better place when we have power in numbers; ‘I’m so much better not afraid to die’.