Welcome...

A Greater Boston native, I'm a professional dancer and award-winning interdisciplinary artist with talents in choreography, filmmaking, art, and graphic design. I'm co-founder and artistic director of Luminarium Dance Company (Boston, MA), art director of Art New England magazine, senior contributor for The Arts Fuse, and am the Boston area dance critic for the international Fjord Review. I recently completed a one-year term as co-chair of the Arlington Cultural Council, and am regularly hired as an arts advocate to speak at events ranging from legislative assemblies at the State House to entrepreneurial panels for students at Mount Holyoke College. This blog serves as a behind-the-scenes peek into the life and journal of an interdisciplinary artist. Learn more at merliguerra.com or luminariumdance.org, and thank you for reading my thoughts on setting the visual and performing arts into motion.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chihuly Photographic Entry

For anyone unfortunate enough to not be living in the Boston area right now, here's a little taste of the incredible blown glass artwork exhibit at the M.F.A. by Chihuly. It is a beautiful show, both in craftsmanship and conception. As I wandered the rooms and took in the sights, I truly felt that this artist had captured many of the things I aspire to: Where I set still visual art into motion, he seems to have captured motion in these still pieces of glass; and where I yearn to work with light in unusual ways in my art and choreography, his work seems to glow from a light within.

Remarkable.

Please enjoy these images and my thoughts...

My favorite part of the exhibit: Ikebana Boat

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Louise, glancing at her favorite vase (aka: trying to think up a quick way to steal it!)...

While I didn't care much for the vases with the chunky entwined flowers, I absolutely loved this one! The juxtaposition of fluid, life-like leaves against the surface of a flawless, traditional vase was wonderfully striking. Also, after loading these photos from my camera onto the computer, and complaining to myself that they'd uploaded in a jumble, I was surprised to find a resemblance between the coloring and movement quality of this piece...

...with Justine in her beautiful Mohiniyattam costume! Just as classical Indian dance has a fluidity juxtaposed with its statue-esque qualities -

- so, too, does this work of art! (And the colors...look how they match!)

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These pieces, at first glance, did not seem nearly as elaborate. Yet, the closer I got to them, and the longer I stared, I began to love them the most. To me, these pieces truly embody movement. They are the wind billowing through the glass, captured in time. They are fluidity frozen into a form. So beautiful.

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Inspiration behind the work.
It's amazing to see what inspires artists in relation to the work they create!

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From here on out, I will simply post some of the images I feel best capture the experience of the exhibit. If you have the opportunity to go, please do!


So many colors. So much light. So much fanciful creativity.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Huge Post: Work changes, life changes, and artistic milestones...

A fellow commuter watches the train rush into the station as we all stand there, tired from a long day's work, wondering what tomorrow will hold.

Work Changes ~

I my case, I stood there waiting for the train excited to think that this was my second-to-last commute into the North End for a long time. Not to say I didn't enjoy that commute, or working at the Paul Revere House, because I did! And of course, it felt so short-lived to have finally become comfortable in the museum, with the history and with my coworkers, but sometimes changes come when they're least expected, and not when we try for them.

For two years, I have searched for a full-time job, and on that day I finally had one! Two weeks later, I am just beginning to become adjusted at my new home, as the Creative Services Associate for New Rep Theatre in Watertown (in residency at the Arsenal Center for the Arts). So exciting! In the interviews, my bosses seemed apologetic that I would be wearing many hats each day from graphic design projects to social networking sites, and from website updates to creating promotional video pieces. For anyone who knows me, my interests in the arts, or has at least seen my seemingly disjointed resume, I could not believe it. How perfect. Finally, a job that will challenge me in every regard, while teaching me skills that will prove useful in my own career as an artist and dancer, and one in which I can grow and expand while supporting the ARTS! I cannot begin to express how happy I have been since receiving that call, but it has certainly been a change.

The empty theatre between my Creative Ballet classes.

For one thing, this change, while so positive in so many ways, does mean that I will have to give up teaching through Cambridge Performance Project. Those kids have been such a huge part of my life since taking on the job back in September. They've made me laugh, dance, sing...yell, lose my vocal chords, and go absolutely insane chasing after them. They've had their good days, they've had their bad. They've allowed me to teach them dance, while I learned from them patience and trust. They are all such wonderful children, and it has been such an intense experience working with them for so long. It is a difficult thought to realize I have finally made it to that point of comfort with them, only to pass them off to another teacher. Very upsetting for me, and for them.

The stickers I gave my kids as they left. Hearts; both to show my love for my students and for our mutual love of dance. (I'm sure this was lost on my three-year-olds, but they were at least thrilled by how shiny they were!!)

Me, with my older class. Here's hoping they keep dancing!

Life Changes ~

Obviously this heading applies to all parts of this post, but I am trying to come to peace with giving up my 3 or 4 part-time job juggling act and instead carving out some time for myself and my relationships. Be it trying to go out more with my roommate (did someone say Bruins / game 7 tonight??) or spending time with my boyfriend, I need to focus on this as a larger part of my day, week, life. My work and my passion for the arts tend to consume me, so instead I have been trying to find simple ways to brighten my day, and allow myself to breathe now and then.

Something peaceful; something calming.

In fact, that's why I'm sitting here writing this blog post. Hopefully soon, if not later tonight, I will have a chance to post some recent beautiful photos for another Photographic Entry...

Artistic Milestones ~

That's right. The Gala is fast approaching, and with it comes the happiness, pressure, excitement, and overall overwhelming emotions that accompany one full successful year as a company. Truly unbelievable. (For more on our latest performances, please do check out our blog at www.LuminariumDance.blogspot.com.)

The beautiful Gala invitations that were mailed in the hopes of gathering even more of our community to celebrate with us.

One year. And yet it feels like it's been a part of our lives...forever. I mentioned to Kim last week, after touring the BCA Calderwood, that trying to remember the year in between college and Luminarium is such a blur for me, only in that I literally can't remember the days without Luminarium as a constant presence in our lives. Kim and I talk night and day, and sometimes in between. We send emails, we text...we're one dove away from carrier pigeon messages...it has taken over our thoughts, our inspirations, our time, and our lives. But I think I speak for both of when I say that we also love it. We have found such a solid support base in the Boston community; such lovely dancers who are dedicated to the company and their art. A wonderful network of arts administration gods and goddesses who have helped us shape who we are today...

It makes me so excited to think that in just one year, we have started so much more than a company. It has become so much bigger than us over the months. With work, we can keep our momentum going until we are a solid, constant presence in the Boston arts scene. I'm determined, so is Kim, and so are our collaborators.

Separately, or not so separately, we are keeping our fingers crossed. Just applied for a grant that will drastically change our company for the better. It will allow Kim and me to fully explore what it means to be "Luminarium" and will give us the chance to fully embrace dance as art (or in my case...to set the visual arts into motion). So if you believe in the power of positive thought, please send us your good vibes, so that this July we can announce the most incredible project of Luminarium's short career.

So come celebrate ONE YEAR with us on Sunday, June 26th.
Tickets can be purchased at www.LuminariumDance.org/e-store

As always, many thanks for taking the time to read.
Merli