Miguel Gutierrez calls his company of dancers the Powerful People, and powerful they feel in Everyone, the dance-kissed piece of abstract theater opening Out There 20. At turns, the characters are also giddy people, awkward people, fascinated people, unsettled people, unbridled people, distracted people, determined people, nave people, idealistic people, vulnerable people, frustrated people, impressionable people, lustful people and, through it all, hopeful people. Such is life as an American twentysomething, an age Gutierrez explores with layers of minimalist music and movement, fragmented text and crescendos of intensity.
At the Walker, Gutierrez seats his audience backstage in the McGuire Theater, on cushions and small risers facing the curtain. Against the beat of clanging hi-hat cymbals and the drone of keyboard and guitar, Gutierrez and his players emerge one after the other and, over the next 75 minutes, slowly discover and reveal themselves and each other. Aside from a funny, rambling nonologue (all nine players deliver a journal entry in unison), there’s little text here. Gutierrez moves his players from one place to the next, both physically and metaphorically, with the patience of a sunrise, stringing repetitive sound and movement to the breaking point before releasing the tension. It’s one of his core strengths as a choreographer and director – Gutierrez draws arcs of emotion and subtext without serving them up on platters.
He also challenges his audiences. With Everyone, Gutierrez fosters a relationship that, at times, seems more zoo/visitor than performer/viewer. His players are learning how to exist in the world – we see fear, playfulness, over-the-top sexuality, and the aping of one another in the compulsion to feel normal – and they’re as aware of our presence as we are of them. Moments after what could be the most extended group makeout scene in the history of theater, the players break into an atonal, Lennon-esque chorus – “ When you rise up, you must sing songs” – extending their longing for community to all of us. In the end, Everyone is for anyone who wants to share or reclaim his own coming of age.