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Merli V. Guerra's PLACE Project (Presenting Landmarks through Artistic Community Engagement) is a custom-tailored annual event that integrates history, dance, and the arts to celebrate a town’s cultural and historic landmarks.

Each season, Luminarium partnered with Artistic Director Merli V. Guerra's PLACE Project, a creative placemaking project dedicated to celebrating a cultural or historic community landmark through the integration of dance, history, and the arts. Founded in 2012, PLACE Project (formerly titled the "Cultural Community Outreach Project") has publicly presented a myriad of inter- and transdisciplinary works and events, including: a self-published storybook combining dance with locally-sourced children's artwork and professional writing (Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, MA); turning a 60-foot-tall water tower into a projection screen for an outdoor performance of dance and visual art (Arlington Reservoir Water Tower, Arlington, MA); a weeklong “breathing installation” series integrating movers into craft-based installation art (Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA); and most recently, an extended reality (XR) 360-degree immersive dance production illuminating architectural ruins at a Revolutionary War battle site (Princeton Battlefield State Park, Princeton, NJ); among others. Below are projects created in collaboration with Luminarium during its 14 seasons. For a complete listing of past and upcoming PLACE Projects, visit the project's website.


Project Archive



2022-23: Constellation Stories

Springfield Science Museum (Springfield MA) & Museum of Science, Boston

More info here.

The 2022 PLACE Project traveled to the stars, as we celebrated Seymour Planetarium's 85th anniversary (the oldest planetarium in the country) at Springfield Science Museum in Springfield, MA. The production then expanded into a full-evening work at the Charles Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Science, Boston, in 2023. This exciting collaborative performance of dance, light, and science featured astronomy-based mythologies from China, Japan, Estonia, Greece, Puerto Rico, and Cape Verde. Our Constellation Stories event comprised contemporary performances by Luminarium Dance Company; original music composition by Madeleine Shapiro (cellist/improvisations, NYC) and Andreas Bergsland (electronics, Norway); traditional Taíno solos by Chali'naru Dones and Vinny “Tata’niki” Iraheta; and Celestial Gift, a new work by Henoch Spinola; all honoring the night sky. Visitors are encouraged to wander the museum as the dancers pop up in different locations throughout the afternoon. 


2021: The Time Traveler's Lens

Princeton Battlefield State Park  .  Princeton NJ

Experience the production here.

NOW LIVE! - Luminarium Dance Company has officially launched its "groundbreaking" new production The Time Traveler's Lens using 360-degree videography and interdisciplinary choreography to present an extended reality (XR) immersive performance illuminating the history of the colonnade at Princeton Battlefield State Park (Princeton NJ). This site-specific performance comprises five 360-degree dance films that are viewable as augmented reality (AR) across the battlefield grounds on visitors’ personal mobile devices or as a virtual reality (VR) experience when viewed remotely. As the time traveler, you control the lens, while experiencing the layers of past identities held by this historic site, including ties to the American Revolution (1777); Thomas Ustick Walter, famed architect of the U.S. Capitol (1835); and the Delaware & Raritan Canal (1901); among other glimpses into the colonnade’s rich and storied past. 


2020: The I/DD Self-Advocacy Project

Rutgers University & coLAB Arts  .  New Brunswick NJ

Luminarium's 2020 PLACE Project began with a focus on highlighting one organization and expanded to celebrate Intellectual/Developmental Disability (I/DD) self-advocates across New Jersey as a whole. From September 2019 to March 2020, Guerra conducted oral histories in collaboration with two organizations: Rutgers University and coLAB Arts. The resulting dance theatre work, ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQ—STUVWXYZ, calls attention to the struggles and accomplishments these self-advocates face. What daily dignities do we take for granted? What does "self-advocacy" mean to those in the I/DD community? Evoking moments of accomplishment and perseverance, this work highlights the day-to-day overlaps of I/DD and neurotypical communities.


2019: Global Water Dances

Mercer County Park  .  West Windsor NJ

Merli V. Guerra and Luminarium's Satellite Company presented new site-specific work as part of Global Water Dances' 2019 worldwide event, on the heels of Guerra's work 8.7 million minus 1, which prompts viewers to reconsider their own habits of pollution and human consumption. This migratory performance installation took place along the edges of Mercer Lake in Mercer County Park.


2018: Clermont Commission

Clermont Historic Site  .  Germantown NY
Click here for photos

For its 2018 Season, Luminarium took its annual PLACE Project outside Massachusetts for the first time, when the company was commissioned by The Friends of Clermont to create two new works honoring Clermont Historic Site in upstate New York: one set into motion the real-life story of Clermont historic figure Nancy Shippen, while the other examined the effect of legacy on industry in the Hudson River Valley. These two new works (Guerra's Trinkets and Holman's Intersections, respectively) were performed alongside The Hostess Diaries, created for Luminarium's 2016 PLACE Project. The program was sponsored in part by a Humanities New York Action Grant.


2017: Kinetic Craft

Fuller Craft Museum  .  Brockton MA
Click here for photos, videos, and testimonials

For its 2017 Season, Luminarium was in residence at the Fuller Craft Museum for the entire week of April school vacation (Daily, 10am-5pm Tuesday, April 18 through Sunday, April 23, 2017). The company constructed a series of “breathing installations”—a concept first developed by Guerra 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. Participants were welcome to peruse the museum at their leisure as dancers from each installation performed and interacted with those passing by. Engaging for all ages, the event was free with museum admission.

2016: 300 Years

Longfellow's Wayside Inn  .  Sudbury MA
Click here for photos, video, and press
For its 2016 Season, Luminarium celebrated the 300th anniversary of Longfellow's Wayside Inn in Sudbury with outdoor performances on the grounds. The company created three new works honoring the inn, its history, and the land, as well as a new experimental film integrating slow motion dance with flour as an homage to the Wayside's iconic grist mill.

2015: Amherst Storybook Project

Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art  .  Amherst MA
Preview the completed book, and purchase your own copy here
In 2015, Luminarium paid homage to the Amherst, MA, region's literary roots through the creation of a new storybook for children that was created through community donated artwork and poetry. The book and corresponding dance performance debuted in November at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.

2014: Night at the Tower

Arlington Reservoir Water Tower  .  Arlington MA

Click here for photos, video, and accolades

Luminarium turned Arlington's historic water tower at Park Circle into an enormous 60-foot-tall screen, showcasing art from the community, music, and dance, to highlight this local landmark. The project was very well received, with more than 300 in attendance, and was recently chosen as one of just three (out of 5,000+ candidates throughout the state in 2014) to receive the Massachusetts Cultural Council's prestigious Gold Star Award for its artistic excellence and impact on the community.

2013: Threading Motion Project

New England Quilt Museum  .  Lowell MA

Click here to watch the promo video

Using images of quilts and video projection, Luminarium created a series of short films combining the art of quilting with dance. The film series was then shown at the gallery during its Silk! exhibition, with a live performance during the exhibition's opening. The films were so popular that they were requested by the San Jose Quilt Museum in California to be shown in an exhibition later that same year.

2012: Celebration of Preservation Project

Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House  .  Concord MA
Click here for photos and footage

In 2012, the company presented a site-specific piece for the Centennial Celebration at Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House in Concord, MA, entitled the Celebration of Preservation Project. Over the course of several months, Luminarium gathered voice recordings from the museum's many tourists (some local, some abroad). These recordings were then turned into a soundscore for an outdoor piece, which was presented three times (once on the hour) outdoors on the lawn.

"This project is my favorite of the season: It reaches across disciplines to unify residents of all ages and backgrounds while celebrating their town's history—from past to present."


Luminarium Director Merli V. Guerra leads this annual project.

Her interest and expertise in artistic celebration of historic landmarks stems from her seven years of work as an historical interpreter for Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House, home of the book Little Women (Concord, MA), and the Paul Revere House (Boston, MA). Over the decade that followed, her work expanded to focus on historically-based community engagement arts programming with interdisciplinary choreography and creative placemaking as integral components.

Learn more at PLACE Project.

Photo: Ryan Carollo.


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