Merli V. Guerra is an award-winning choreographer and interdisciplinary artist based in Princeton NJ & Boston MA.
MERLI V. GUERRA is an award-winning choreographer and interdisciplinary artist. She is a professional dancer with a background in ballet, modern, and classical Indian dance, and is Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Luminarium Dance Company—an award-winning contemporary dance company based in Boston, MA, that is regularly hailed for its unique combination of dance and light. Guerra has performed lead roles with modern dance and Odissi companies on international tours to India (2007, 2012) and Japan (2009), while her choreographic works, screendance films, and interactive art installations have 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), and abroad in Canada, Germany, Indonesia, and Italy. Her work extends beyond the traditional stage; her site-specific Night at the Tower project was honored as one of just three projects (out of 5,000+ across the state in 2014) to receive the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s prestigious 2015 Gold Star Award.
Beyond choreography, Guerra is a graphic designer and freelance arts journalist, having spent five years as Art Director of Art New England magazine, followed by her recent work at Princeton University Press. As a writer, she is Senior Contributor to The Arts Fuse (curating its weekly “top pick” dance events across New England), and a ballet and contemporary 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, including a special invitation from the Massachusetts Cultural Council in 2016 to present her choreography and speak on a panel at the Massachusetts State House, urging legislators to further support the arts. After relocating to Central New Jersey in 2017, Guerra was elected to serve on the Board of Dance New Jersey (a state-wide nonprofit resource) as a thought-leader for new public programming. 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 a Master of Fine Arts in Dance candidate at Rutgers University.
SELECT HONORS & AWARDS
Women in Dance Leadership Conference, Philadelphia PA (2019)
Guerra’s screendance films The One I Keep and What seems so is transition have been selected for screening at the 2019 Women in Dance Leadership Conference in Philadelphia (October 2019) with an invitation to speak on the screendance panel.
Award Recipient, Mary Lyon Award
Mount Holyoke College Alumnae Association (2019)
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.
Festival Cinematica: Immagine in Movimento, Ancona, Italy (2019)
Guerra’s film Synchronic was presented as one of 14 award finalists in this international screendance festival.
Grant Recipient, Local Cultural Councils
Massachusetts Cultural Council (2012 – 2019)
15-time grant recipient for the creation of new work throughout Massachusetts, with a focus on projects that bring dance and the arts to underserved communities.
WomenCinemakers, Berlin, Germany (2018)
Guerra is featured in a special edition of periodical WomenCinemakers highlighting artistic films by noteworthy female artists hailing from Tokyo, Amsterdam, and Athens, among others.
Boston Opera House (2016)
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, Local Cultural Council 2016 Statewide Assembly
Massachusetts State House (2016)
Invited by the Massachusetts Cultural Council to speak on a panel urging prominent state legislators to continue funding the arts, alongside distinguished arts colleagues Ben Taylor (musician), Scarlet Keys (Associate Professor, Berklee College of Music), and keynote speaker Sally Taylor (musician and founder of Consenses).
Award Recipient, Gold Star Award
Massachusetts Cultural Council (2015)
Innovated and championed Night at the Tower (Arlington MA)—Guerra’s largest Cultural Community Outreach Project to date—which was chosen as one of just three projects (out of 5,000+ across the state in 2014) to receive the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s coveted Gold Star Award.