There’s nothing new under the sun, they say. They’re wrong. Merli V. Guerra's choreography is, well, luminous.

 

BEVERLY CREASEY BOSTON ARTS REVIEW

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Guerra's award-winning choreography has been presented by more than 80 events across the country (in California, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont).

She is regularly commissioned to create custom choreographic works for historic sites, cultural festivals, award ceremonies, TED Talks, universities, and mainstage feature productions.

—Featured Works—

Click Arrows or Swipe Right to View

“...a myth grafted onto the stage. [Guerra's Phoenixial Cycle] maintains the big emotions and ancient reverence of its source. It's a triumph.

 

NEW ENGLAND THEATRE GEEK

—Repertory—

Over the past 13 years, Guerra has choreographed 45 ‘made for stage’ works, 14 screendance films, 7 performance installations, 6 AR/VR 360-degree choreographic works; and self-published one dance/art storybook.

Enjoy perusing the full choreographic collection by clicking on the thumbnails below.

In Revolution
In Revolution

(2021 – 8 min) The colonnade currently serves as an entryway to the burial of 36 unnamed soldiers from the famed Battle of Princeton (January 3, 1777). This duet serves to honor the sacrifices of these unnamed soldiers and to encourage park visitors to visit the soldiers' final resting place on the grounds. Created as part of Guerra’s AR/VR production “The Time Traveler’s Lens,” 2021.

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Conception: Architect as deity
Conception: Architect as deity

(2021 – 5 min) This film depicts the role of the architect as a deity of sorts, birthing from his mind the plans for the Newkirk house and its colonnade entrance. Created as part of Guerra’s AR/VR production “The Time Traveler’s Lens,” 2021.

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Passage
Passage

(2021 – 9 min) A quartet, "Passage" pays homage to the colonnade’s journey from Philadelphia, PA, to Princeton, NJ, up the Delaware & Raritan Canal on canal boats in 1901. Created as part of Guerra’s AR/VR production “The Time Traveler’s Lens,” 2021.

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Dwelling
Dwelling

(2021 – 5 min) This film reminds visitors of the colonnade’s original purpose as an entryway to a private home. Inspiration was taken from a Maxwell family Christmas card dated 1949, yet the characters in this film are not meant to literally depict the Maxwells—they are instead honoring all three families (the Newkirks, Owsleys, and Maxwells) who called this colonnade "home." Created as part of Guerra’s AR/VR production “The Time Traveler’s Lens,” 2021.

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Remains: Architect as mortal
Remains: Architect as mortal

(2021 – 5 min) "Remains" depicts the architect as an insignificant mortal who—like the columns—was eventually displaced from wealth and would perhaps feel akin to the columns, alone and forgotten. Created as part of Guerra’s AR/VR production “The Time Traveler’s Lens,” 2021.

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Kaleidoscope
Kaleidoscope

(2021 – 4 min) Using 360-degree videography and editing, "Kaleidoscope" celebrates diversity and individuality, while reuniting dancers across different continents, time zones, and Covid quarantine statuses. Created as a Guest Choreographer for Rider University's 2021 virtual "Rider Dances" production.

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ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQ–STUVWXYZ
ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQ–STUVWXYZ

(2020 – 15 min) Created in collaboration with Rutgers University, coLAB Arts, and intellectually/developmentally disabled (I/DD) self-advocates across New Jersey, this dance theatre work for five performers / vocalists calls attention to the struggles and accomplishments these self-advocates face. What daily dignities do we each take for granted? What does "self-advocacy" mean to those in the I/DD community? ​ Created for Rutgers University's 2020 "Motion: New Dance Works" MFA production.

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River Stories
River Stories

(2020 – 13 min) Using shimmering fabric and classical Odissi-inspired movement vocabulary, this commissioned work for nine dancers interweaves storytelling, spatial patterning, and intricate rhythmic precision while evoking a sunset reflecting along the river. Created as a Guest Choreographer for Rider University's 2020 "Rider Dances" production.

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like mercury in the palm of my hand
like mercury in the palm of my hand

(2019 – 7 min) This pensive duet with handheld lights originated as an artistic abstraction of the “Janus molecule,” whose rare properties make it both medicinal and lethal. It later grew to encompass the Panopticonic nature of the microscope, observ-ing versus being observ-ed, and the implications of exposure. Created for Luminarium's 2019 feature production Luminarium in Concert.

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For you, to mentor me
For you, to mentor me

(2019 – 14 min) For you, to mentor me follows a mother-daughter relationship shifting over time, featuring a multigenerational cast ages 4 to 60, and newborns 11 to 19 days, as it highlights a growing young woman’s thirst for independence, and a mother’s desire to nurture, guide, and mentor. Awarded “Best Choreography” and “Best Narrative Dance" at the 2020 SounDance Film Festival (Spain & Argentina).

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Global Water Dances 2019
Global Water Dances 2019

(2019 – 1 hour) This migratory performance installation for five dancers took place along the edges of Lake Mercer in Mercer County Park as part of this international event, bringing awareness to water pollution. Created for Global Water Dances' 2019 worldwide event.

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8.7 million minus 1
8.7 million minus 1

(2019 – 9 min) A sextet integrating classical Odissi Indian dance, modern, and shadow theatre to literally and metaphorically illuminate the effects of human waste and pollution on the planet’s ecosystems. Incorporating found sound and spoken poetry by Guerra, the work aims to remind each of us of our direct impacts on the problem, and the habits we can change in our daily routines to do our part. Created as a Guest Choreographer for Rider University's Dance and Sustainability Project.

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HIVELAND
HIVELAND

(2018 – 60 min) Hailed by the Boston Globe as "a compelling exploration. It is provocative, unpredictable, and gratifyingly visceral," HIVELAND is an evening-length, single narrative work co-choreographed with Kim Holman. Within HIVELAND are three works by Guerra: –For you, to mentor me (duet) –Here (solo) –Worlds apart ('duet' for 7 dancers)

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Trinkets
Trinkets

(2018 – 5 min) Performed on the beautiful Clermont Historic Site grounds in upstate New York, this commissioned piece sets into motion the real-life story of Clermont historic figure Nancy Shippen—from her marital abuse and custody battles to her ultimate reunion with her child. The program was sponsored in part by a Humanities New York Action Grant.

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Weathered
Weathered

(2017 – 7 min) Created in relation to Linda Cunningham's striking bronze sculpture War Memorial III, this towering duet used 1970s CBS Vietnam newscasts as a sound score—at times, standing tall as the heroes of war, and at others, becoming engulfed by the darkness as civilian and military victims of war. ​ Created for the 2017 Outlet Dance Project at Grounds For Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ.

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Rosoff Awards Commission
Rosoff Awards Commission

(2017 – 5 min) ​ A commission from The Ad Club to open the prestigious 2017 Rosoff Awards at the State Room in Boston, MA, this quintet celebrates diversity, individuality, and the power of rising as a unified society. ​ ​Co-choreographed with Kimberleigh A. Holman.

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Breathing Installation: Metal
Breathing Installation: Metal

(2017 – Time Variable) Performance installation. Created for Luminarium's "Kinetic Craft" at Fuller Craft Museum.

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Breathing Installation: Wood
Breathing Installation: Wood

(2017 – Time Variable) Performance installation. Created for Luminarium's "Kinetic Craft" at Fuller Craft Museum.

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Breathing Installation: Glass
Breathing Installation: Glass

(2017 – Time Variable) Performance installation. Created for Luminarium's "Kinetic Craft" at Fuller Craft Museum.

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The Devil's Turn
The Devil's Turn

(2017 – 9 min) ​ Set on four dancers, The Devil's Turn was choreographed as a commission for the Boston New Music Initiative's orchestral performance Ars Nexa Tempora, and is set to composer and collaborator John Allemeier’s quick-tempoed fiddle reel of the same name.

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TEDxCambridge
Commission

(2016 – 5 min)

At the start of 2016, Luminarium was commissioned to create a new work to open TEDxCambridge at the renowned Boston Opera House on June 9, 2016. With an audience of 2,600, this production was the single largest TED Talks event, worldwide. The choreographic commission promoted creativity and innovation.

​Co-choreographed with Kimberleigh A. Holman.

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