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, August 9, 2012

Kindness & Curiosity

Take a second -- right now -- to stop and think about the interactions you've had throughout your day. Did you joke with the person handing you your lunch? Run into an acquaintance and say a quick hello? How many hours did you interact with friends, coworkers, kids?

Now take a moment to consider how many people you passed today without a single interaction. How many people sat on the bus beside you? How many neighbors did you pass by without a wave? How many interactions could you have had...but didn't?

We are all so knee-deep in thought -- so confined by our schedules -- there are many missed opportunities for interaction. Yet, thanks to seven lightbulbs, some wooden dowels and a bra, my daily quota of interactions has tripled, while introducing me to such a wonderful world of strangers. Let me explain...


Recently, the creation of my Andromeda solo has taken up much of my time. Above is an image taken early on in the process. (More images on the evolution of Andromeda to come at a later date.)  Over time, it gradually became this:


A geometric dome of wood, watts, and wires emerges from a pewter bra. As a costume, it is stunning. As lighting for the soloist, it is essential. As a cacophony of visual art, lighting design, and costuming, sitting in the back seat of my car, or protruding awkwardly from under my arm as I carry it down the street, it is THE single greatest conversation-starter I have ever encountered.

And what a joy it's been! The number of times I've had someone rush to get the door for me, the people who have stopped me on the street to ask about it, the dance peers who marvel at its design, the little kids who do a double take and give me a sheepish grin of delight when I turn it on for them... It has been such a wonderful adventure to experience those around me in a fleeting, but heart-felt moment. One of my favorites was the time I found myself juggling a bag of postcards, and the contraption, with a huge dance festival to my right (I was not headed there) and a car eyeing my parking spot. After waving them on, they insisted on pulling up to me. Awkwardly gathering my things, I apologized "Oh sorry, not leaving, there might be a spot further up if you're here for the festival." "No no no," says the older couple inside, "We want to know where YOU'RE going." ....at which point I chucked a handful of postcards through the window and waddled off in delight with Andromeda feeling a little less weighted on my shoulders than usual.

Tonight, I enjoyed a lovely conversation with two neighbors I've really never met, as they helped me wrangle it out of the car, and I imagine that next week (when it once again emerges for rehearsal) I will be granted yet another tiny interaction with someone new.

So here it is. My post on kindness and curiosity. You could take away from this that it is disappointing how few moments we experience with others, but I'd rather you take away this: If you see someone wearing cute shoes, tell them! If you notice someone juggling too many things, grab the door. And if you see some wacky Boston artist (an interdisciplinary artist at that -- they're the worst!) trying to act normal while parading down the street with a bundle of bulbs, ask her where's she's going.

(Then go see her show: MYTHOS:PATHOS - 8/31, 9/1, 9/2 - Watertown - www.luminariumdance.org/buy-tickets)