Merli V. Guerra is an award-winning choreographer and interdisciplinary artist based in Princeton NJ & Boston MA.
MERLI V. GUERRA is a professional dancer and award-winning interdisciplinary artist with a background in ballet, modern, and classical Odissi Indian dance. She is Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Luminarium Dance Company, an award-winning contemporary dance company in Boston, MA, and its satellite company in Princeton, NJ. As a professional dancer, she has performed lead roles with acclaimed companies on tours to India (2007, 2012) and Japan (2009), while her choreographic works, screendance films, and installations have been presented by 80+ events across the U.S., as well as Argentina, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Portugal, and Spain.
Guerra is a 2015 recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s prestigious Gold Star Award for her work with site-specific dance and community engagement—a topic which she presented on at the National Dance Education Organization’s 2020 National Conference. She has served on multiple Boards, most recently Dance New Jersey (a state-wide resource), as a thought-leader for new public programming.
Beyond choreography, Guerra is a freelance graphic designer and arts journalist who served as Art Director of Art New England magazine for five years, followed by her work at Princeton University Press. As a writer, she is Senior Contributor to Boston’s The Arts Fuse, and a dance critic for the Toronto-based Fjord Review and Vancouver-based Dance International magazine.
Guerra frequently acts as a guest choreographer, artist, panelist, teacher, and advocate for the arts. She now continues her work in Boston in addition to her more recent work in the Mid-Atlantic, where she is a Part-Time Lecturer and Master of Fine Arts in Dance candidate at Rutgers University.
—Selected Awards & Honors—
Award Recipient, SounDance Film Festival – Barcelona, Spain, and Resistencia, Argentina
“Best Choreography” and “Best Narrative Dance” Film Awards for For you, to mentor me
Award Recipient, Europa Film Festival – Barcelona, Spain, and Resistencia, Argentina
“Best Experimental” Film Award for The One I Keep
Award Recipient, Mary Lyon Award – Mount Holyoke College Alumnae Association
Given to young alumnae (15 years or less since graduation) who “demonstrate exceptional promise and sustained achievement in their life, profession, and community, and whose work embodies the humane values which Mary Lyon exemplified in her life and inspired in others.” Awarded by the Alumnae External Achievement Awards Committee.
Award Finalist – Festival Cinematica: Immagine in Movimento, Ancona, Italy
Synchronic, one of 14 award finalists at international screendance festival.
Featured Artist – WomenCinemakers, Berlin, Germany
The One I Keep is featured in a special edition of periodical WomenCinemakers highlighting artistic films by noteworthy female artists hailing from Tokyo, Amsterdam, and Athens, among others.
Choreographer, TEDxCambridge – Boston Opera House
Commissioned by TEDxCambridge to choreograph the opening act for its Spring 2016 TEDx Talks. Held for 2,600 viewers—the largest TED event in history, worldwide.
Panelist / Choreographer, Local Cultural Council 2016 Statewide Assembly – Massachusetts State House
By invitation of the Massachusetts Cultural Council – panelist advocate for funding of the arts, alongside distinguished colleagues Ben Taylor (musician), Scarlet Keys (Associate Professor, Berklee College of Music), and keynote speaker Sally Taylor (musician and Consenses founder). Also invited to present choreographic excerpt from Guerra’s Phoenixial Cycle.
Award Recipient, Gold Star Award – Massachusetts Cultural Council
Innovated and championed Night at the Tower (Arlington MA), largest Cultural Community Outreach Project to date. One of three projects out of 5,000+ candidates to receive the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Gold Star Award.
Panelist, Breaking Barriers: (Re-Defining) Entrepreneurship Conference – Mount Holyoke College
Invitation to speak on the Innovation in Art & Design entrepreneurship panel. Keynote speaker: Alicia Stewart, Senior Producer of CNN’s In America.
“Unsung Hero” – Improper Bostonian Magazine
Praised as an “unsung hero” in the Boston arts scene in the Spring 2013 issue of Improper Bostonian magazine.