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"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.

—Biography—

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Merli V. Guerra (MFA in Dance) is an award-winning choreographer and interdisciplinary artist combining dance, film, art, and design. She has a background in classical Odissi Indian dance, ballet, and modern/contemporary, while specializing in dance and technology, and screendance. Guerra is Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Luminarium Dance Company, an award-winning 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization merging dance and illumination 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 is a Part-Time Lecturer at Rider University and Rutgers University.

 

As a professional Odissi and modern dancer, Guerra has performed lead roles with acclaimed companies on tours to India (2007, 2012) and Japan (2009). In 2021, she traveled with a biologist across Tanzania creating site-specific screendances in response to its national park ecosystems. In 2022, Guerra was an artist in residence with Organização Buinho (Portugal) where she created a new screendance honoring the town's 16th-century monastery ruins and a public QR code film installation highlighting community members. Guerra’s films and choreographic works have been presented by 100+ events across the U.S. and internationally, with interactive art installations permanently on view in the U.S. and Portugal. 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 has presented on this project and her work with dance and XR film technologies at Our World Heritage International Globinar 2.0 (2021); Harvard University Virtual/Augmented Reality (2021); Northeast & Mid-Atlantic Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit (2022); and most recently, at the 2022 Women in Dance Leadership Conference, where she led a panel on “Dancemaking & the Digital Realm: Investigating creative intersections of dance and technology.”

 

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.


—Recent Awards & Honors—

2022

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.

2022

Award Recipient – Black Swan International Film Festival, Kolkata, India

“Best Performing Arts" Film Award for Ao pó voltaremos

2022

Award Recipient – 8 & Halfilm Awards, Rome, Italy

“Best European Short Film" Award for Ao pó voltaremos

2022

Award Nominee – Nawada International Film Festival, Nawada, India

“Best Female Director” and “Best Cinematography” Awards Nominee for Ao pó voltaremos

2022

Award Recipient – International Halicarnassus Film Festival, Bodrum, Turkey

“Best Creative (Short Film)” Award for Ao pó voltaremos

2022

Award Recipient – Košice International Film Festival, Košice, Slovakia

“Best Experimental” Film Award for The One I Keep

2022

Award Recipient – 8 & Halfilm Awards, Rome, Italy

“Best Screendance Indie Narrative Short” Film Award for For you, to mentor me

2022

Award Nominee – Cannes Shorts Film Festival, Cannes, France

“Best Experimental” Film Award Nominee for The One I Keep

2022

Award Nominee – Budapest Film Festival, Budapest, Hungary

“Best Cinematography” Film Award Nominee for For you, to mentor me

2021

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”

2020

Award Recipient – SounDance Film Festival, Barcelona, Spain, and Resistencia, Argentina
“Best Choreography” and “Best Narrative Dance” Film Awards for For you, to mentor me

2020

Award Recipient – Europa Film Festival, Barcelona, Spain, and Resistencia, Argentina

“Best Experimental” Film Award for The One I Keep

2019

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.

2019

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.

2019

Award Finalist – Festival Cinematica: Immagine in Movimento, Ancona, Italy

Synchronic, one of 14 award finalists at international screendance festival.

2018

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.

2016

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.

2016

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.

2015

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.

2013

“Unsung Hero” – Improper Bostonian Magazine

Praised as an “unsung hero” in the Boston arts scene in the Spring 2013 issue of Improper Bostonian magazine.

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For an expanded resume that includes teaching experience, public programs, choreography, and recent performances: 
Download Merli V. Guerra's C.V.