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.

Friday, January 27, 2017

2017: Off and Running!

As a reviewer for the Fjord Review, my weekends often involve press releases, packed theaters, and notes scribbled in the dark.

Here we are—just four brisk weeks into the new year and already my plate is full with new projects, culminating events, and guest invitations now through April (and then some, but let’s focus on the next three months for now).

First, a recap of what these projects are:

Voices From the Future: I’ll be participating in Voices From the Future with a voice from the past. Luminarium company member Alison McHorney will perform the one-minute solo from my 2016 work The Grass Never Grows, set to a score of spoken poetry, at this event celebrating the LGBTQ community.

Concert at Longy Hall: Friend and colleague Mel Fitzhugh—a composer whose personal story and professional work are equally intriguing—has invited me to once again perform an improvisationally-inspired choreographic solo alongside cellist Christien Beeuwkes, this time for an afternoon performance of Mel’s musical works at Longy Hall. The concert will take place February 26, 2017.

Mad World: Aurora Borealis has selected Luminarium to be its Guest Artist for its Spring concert Mad World on March 11th, and has specifically asked us to bring my Phoenixial Cycle duet, last presented at the State House in Boston.

Five College Dance Department Careers Panel: I’m thrilled to be representing Mount Holyoke College’s impressive array of Dance Department alumnae at this event. On March 31st, one alum from each of the Five Colleges (Amherst, Mount Holyoke, Smith, UMass, and Hampshire) in the five-college consortium will speak about their careers, advising current students studying in the field. I feel honored to represent my alma mater, and look forward to connecting with future choreographers (hopefully coming to Boston)!

We Create Festival: I’ve been a part of the 2016-17 cohort since September and have been developing new work with the guidance of my project mentor (and longtime friend) Jenny Zuk, developing an art installation exploring the theme of “hidden stories,” as it pertains to those with physical and/or mental disabilities. The culminating performance and exhibition viewing will take place April 8, 2017.

Kinetic Craft: For my annual Cultural Community Outreach Project (which is now in its 6th year), Luminarium will be in residence at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton for the entire week of April school vacation (10-5pm Tuesday, April 18 through Sunday, April 23, 2017). I’m constructing a series of “breathing installations”—a concept I first developed back in 2011 with Luminarium’s fabric installation at the Boston Center for the Arts’ Movement at the Mills—highlighting the five crafting elements: Textiles, Ceramics, Wood, Glass, and Metal. I’ve invited Kim to join me by creating the Ceramics installation, while I continue to develop the other four, each of which will have a dancer performing inside as part of the installation, around the clock.

Boston New Music Initiative’s Spring Concert: Last year, Luminarium was commissioned to create two new choreographic works to accompany two of the musical scores selected from BNMI's international call to artists. I’m excited to be working on a new work, set to John Allemeier’s The Devil’s Turn. This performance of live music and dance will take place at the Armory in Somerville, MA, on April 22nd.


That’s the update for now. This quarter is packed with projects and events that lend themselves to interdisciplinary creation and collaboration—AKA, my favorite kind of work! As we speak, my bag contains a notebook full of thoughts and sketches, a 21-page musical score, a crumpled Groupon from Kim and my recent glassblowing adventure (research for Kinetic Craft), and a planner full of upcoming interviews and casual conversations scheduled with mentors and artists (often outside my primary discipline) to further enhance my work.

If this first quarter is any indication, 2017 is going to be an intense and invigorating year. Bring it on!

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