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B I O G R A P H Y

Merli V. Guerra is a professional dancer and interdisciplinary artist with a background in ballet, modern, and classical Indian dance in the Odissi style. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance and Studio Art from Mount Holyoke College, and is Artistic Director of Luminarium Dance Company in Cambridge MA. Since co-founding Luminarium in 2010, the company has received dozens of grants and performance invitations, allowing Guerra to continue presenting new work throughout New England, New York, and the West Coast.

In 2013 she was praised as an “unsung hero” in the Boston arts scene, with Luminarium featured as one of ten “stellar organizations that may have slipped under your radar” in the Spring 2013 issue of Improper Bostonian magazine. Most recently, Guerra was invited to showcase her work at the prestigious Fine Arts Center Concert Hall (Amherst MA), whose 2013–14 dance series was comprised solely of five companies: Guerra’s own Luminarium Dance Company, Time Lapse Dance, Kyle Abraham, Parsons Dance, and Alonzo King LINES Ballet.

Guerra’s work with Luminarium extends beyond the traditional stage, leading the company’s annual “Cultural Community Outreach Project,” backed by her decade of work as an historical interpreter. Her most recent Cultural C.O.P., titled Night at the Tower and held in Arlington MA, is Luminarium’s largest outdoor community event to date and was recently honored as one of just three projects (out of 5,000+ candidates across the state in 2014) for the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s prestigious 2015 Gold Star Award. As a result, Guerra has just accepted a three-year appointment to the Arlington Cultural Council, and will be sworn in later this fall.

As a teacher and choreographer, Guerra combines the drive and fluidity of Western contemporary dance with the intricacies of Eastern hand gestures. Her interests lie in the layering of video projection and nontraditional lighting with live performance, and in setting the visual arts into motion. Guerra also performs with companies outside Luminarium. As a member of Deborah Abel Dance Company (Lexington MA) and Nataraj Dancers (Amherst MA), Guerra has studied dance and performed lead roles on international tours to India (2007, 2012) and Japan (2009), with Brazil on the horizon.

Beyond dance, Guerra is an award-winning artistic filmmaker, graphic designer, and writer who currently designs the bi-monthly Art New England magazine in Boston. Asa writer, Guerra recently replaced Debra Cash at The Arts Fuse as its weekly dance picks senior contributor and performance critic. Her films, art installations, and choreographic works have been selected and showcased in venues across the U.S., among them: Rhodywood Filmmakers Showcase (RI); Seacoast Fringe Festival (NH); American Repertory Theater's OBERON, Boston Center for the Arts, Mount Holyoke College, Mobius Alternative Arts Space, UMass Fine Arts Center, New England Quilt Museum (MA); Ithaca College, Jennifer Muller/The Works (NY/NYC); and the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles (CA). Guerra's two 2013 films Threading Motion Project: Quilt Vignettes and The One I Keep were most recently selected for the 2015 Glovebox Short Film & Animation Festival at the historic Brattle Theatre.

 

E D U C A T I O N

Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude Graduate of Mount Holyoke College ’09.
Bachelor of Arts Degree in Dance and Studio Art with additional studies in Film and Graphic Design.

 

Image: Shane Godfrey

 

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