"It would be an understatement to label Merli V. Guerra a Renaissance woman."
ANNE LEVIN TOWN TOPICS
Merli V. Guerra is an award-winning choreographer and interdisciplinary artist based in Princeton NJ & Boston MA.
MERLI V. GUERRA (MFA in Dance, Rutgers University) is an award-winning choreographer and interdisciplinary artist combining dance, film, art, and design. She is Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Luminarium Dance Company, an award-winning 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization merging dance with video projection and interactive lighting design in Boston, MA (founded 2010), and Princeton, NJ (since 2017). She also founded and directs the PLACE Project (Presenting Landmarks through Artistic Community Engagement), a custom-tailored annual event that integrates history, dance, and the arts to celebrate a town’s cultural and historic landmarks (founded 2012). Guerra has performed lead roles as a modern dancer and classical Odissi Indian dancer with acclaimed companies on tours to India (2007, 2012) and Japan (2009); and most recently traveled across Tanzania with a local big cat biologist creating a series of site-specific screendances in response to the ecosystems of its national parks (2021). Her choreographic works have been presented by 100+ events across the U.S., and abroad in Argentina, Canada, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Portugal, and Spain. She received a 2022 Individual Artist Fellowship Award from NJ State Council on the Arts and Mid Atlantic Arts for her work in film; and is a 2015 recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s prestigious Gold Star Award for her work with site-specific dance and community engagement. Her 2021 work “The Time Traveler’s Lens” is a series of 360-degree virtual reality screendance films illuminating the history of the colonnade ruins at Princeton Battlefield State Park, and is now a permanent installation on the park grounds. She presented on this project and merging dance with AR/VR/XR technologies at Our World Heritage International Globinar 2.0 (2021) and Harvard University Virtual/Augmented Reality (2021). 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 is a Part-Time Lecturer at Rider University and Rutgers University. Learn more at luminariumdance.org.
—Selected Awards & Honors—
Award Recipient, $7,000 Individual Artist Fellowship Award – NJ State Council on the Arts & Mid Atlantic Arts
These Fellowships are competitive awards to New Jersey artists in 12 rotating disciplines granted solely on independent peer panel assessment of work samples. The anonymous process is focused on artistic quality, and awards may be used to help artists produce new work and advance their careers.
Award Recipient – 8 & Halfilm Awards, Rome, Italy
“Best Screendance Indie Narrative Short” Film Award for For you, to mentor me
Award Nominee – Cannes Shorts Film Festival, Cannes, France
“Best Experimental” Film Award Nominee for The One I Keep
Award Nominee – Budapest Film Festival, Budapest, Hungary
“Best Cinematography” Film Award Nominee for For you, to mentor me
Award Recipient – Teknochat Festivals’ VIP Fest: Best of 2020, Barcelona, Spain, and Resistencia, Argentina
For you, to mentor me
Winner: “Best Art Narrative of 2020” Award
Finalist: “Best Script;” Finalist: “Best Music, Dance, Art Film”
The One I Keep
Winner: “Best Experimental of 2020” Award
Finalist: “Best Art Direction;” Finalist: “Best Music, Dance, Art Film”
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
Featured Filmmaker; Panelist, Screendance – Women in Dance Leadership Conference, Philadelphia PA
Screening of Guerra's The One I Keep and What seems so is transition; panelist on Screendance Panel.
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.
“Unsung Hero” – Improper Bostonian Magazine
Praised as an “unsung hero” in the Boston arts scene in the Spring 2013 issue of Improper Bostonian magazine.