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.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A broken watch with perfect timing...

It's been a while since I've updated my blog, not from a lack of artistic endeavors, but rather due to the loss of time while tackling these endeavors!

Luminarium is now just 9 days away from its New Hampshire debut at the Seacoast Fringe Festival in Portsmouth, NH, and the time we have spent rehearsing has (as usual) flown by. You can view more about the festival here, but for those who are too far away to make it, allow me to describe to you the process of my newest piece: Bus Stop.

At first, I began with the most comedic sections of the piece. It was a fun experience for everyone involved, and I believe it was the right choice for me to start at this point. It provided a fun, albeit somewhat superficial, range of relationships between characters, and gave me a high point of joyous energy from which to expand. From there, I began working on more intimate sections until, finally, we arrived at the last section of the piece (viewable below).

I recently sent an email to my dancers addressing my original and current thoughts on the piece, and I believe my 3am choreographic-mad-man-mind hit it right on the nail:
I know this sounds sappy for a relatively comical piece, but the truth is there is more to it than comedy, movement and expressions. My original working title was going to be "Stories" and I think that's what this piece really is. It's a collection of stories: "What if..." "What the-..." "Well, hello..." that shift into "May I?" and finally "I'm here." The final section should be a moment in which everyone is physically pulled out of the daze of individual traveling, and a moment in which we become so involved with our neighbors that we are not only having moments of emotional connection, but we have to physically rely on them as we spin from one neighbor's arms to the next, and trust they'll catch us. That's how I view this section, and I think that now that the movement is in your bodies, we will soon reach the emotional components that go with each minor relationship. It's almost there. Almost!
It has been so inspiring to watch the characters I presented to my cast on day one develop in directions I both anticipated and did not. In many ways, they are the characters I envisioned, yet the part I did not expect was the sincerity of the relationships that my cast formed between one another. By the time we reached the end of the final section, I no longer felt I had to direct their thoughts, feelings, and movements, as each of my dancers has learned how his or her character thinks, feels and moves. They know how to interact with one another in a very convincing way, and as one of my dancers put it this evening, "there is a real sense of community" that develops throughout the piece.

But now you might be wondering about the title of this post. And well, I was wondering too...for quite a while! For weeks, I have been on the search for a watch for Mark. As a monied, uptight businessman, Mark needs a watch that is expensive-looking, yet easily removed by his duet partner. Despite both our efforts, everything we found was too cheap, too girly, too buckle-y, too plastic-y... Until last night, when I had the miraculous discovery of the perfect watch at none other than the local Boomerang just one hour before our final rehearsal! There it was: The perfect, gold, nice-looking watch with an elastic expandable cuff, cast aside at this little thrift store for just three dollars, waiting for me to find it.

It's moments like these when I remember that everything is going to go smoothly. All the big issues and little kinks, all the last-minute adjustments and the long-awaited deadlines will all come together and work out just fine. Because even though this greatly sought-after little watch is broken, it still has an excellent sense of timing.