The choreographer Miguel Gutierrez is the next recipient of New York Live Arts’ biennial residency award, the organization announced on Friday. The award, the Randjelovic/Stryker Resident Commissioned Artist, is notable for the breadth of its creative and financial support, which includes a fully produced production and office space, as well as two years of full-time salary and health care benefits.
“We want to be part of a healthy contemporary dance community and one way to do that is to put resources into it,” said Bill T. Jones, the artistic director and co-founder of New York Live Arts.
Gutierrez, 51, is also a podcaster and teacher whose work has been presented in more than 60 cities; he has held artistic residencies at dance institutions across New York City and around the world.
“It feels amazing,” Gutierrez said of receiving the award. “One of the biggest challenges of being an artist is the fact that the financial conditions are always precarious. You also know that it will dry up.”
About choosing Gutierrez, Jones said: “Artists should be the most outspoken citizens in our culture. Artists should be thumbing their nose at all perceived wisdom. Artists should be following from a personal, driven need to make, and trying to tell some truth. Miguel does all of those things splendidly.”
Writing in The New York Times, critics have called Gutierrez’s works “audacious” and said they possessed extraordinary range, “from the softly fluid to the crashingly violent.” In a review for The Times in 2015, Gia Kourlas wrote that Gutierrez “has a charisma that only seems to increase with age.”
Though he’s still thinking about the work he will make, Gutierrez said there were a few themes he plans to develop. “I’m starting from a place of thinking about archive,” he said. “Thinking about memory and the past and how that speaks to the present.”
Gutierrez, who had a podcast called “Are You for Sale?,” has been unusually frank about the financial precariousness of artists’ lives in New York. This rare opportunity for financial support comes after a strenuous pandemic period for dance artists, many of whom lost work and struggled to regain performance opportunities.
“There’s a kind of conflict of messaging that you receive as an artist in New York,” he said, adding that the city has become so unaffordable as to become hostile. “You’re told that you’re in the most important place to be, but there’s nothing necessarily around you that can sustain you in that place.”
This award “takes that burden off it,” he said. “The idea of getting salaried support I can put directly toward my work is pretty unprecedented.”
Previous recipients of the residency award include Kyle Abraham, Okwui Okpokwasili, Raja Feather Kelly and, most recently, Faye Driscoll. Driscoll’s work “Weathering,” a multi-sensory project, involving 10 dancers who also sing, is to have its premiere at Live Arts in April.