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PREVIEW: Arlington Advocate

Lighting up the night

Eileen Kennedy

Arlington Advocate

Front page feature story

August 24, 2014


When Merli Guerra moved to Arlington Heights a little over a year ago, she would pass the water tower as she drove along Park Avenue and marvel at its classic lines.

"I literally pulled my car over the first time I saw it," she said during a recent interview at the water tower. "I said to myself, ‘I don’t know what you are, or where you came from or why you’re here, but I have to have you in a performance.'"

As the co-director and co-founder of Boston’s Luminarium Dance Company along with Kimberleigh A. Holman, she has a lot of pull in deciding where the company will perform.

And a year of planning and working with many others in town will translate to a free dance performance from 7-9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6, at the 80-foot colossus completed in 1924.

Guerra said after graduating from Mount Holyoke College and moving to Boston, she could not find a dance company that incorporated the use of light in the way she envisioned. Between them, she and Holman had focused on studio art, theater lighting design and video projection, and that has led to a satisfying partnership, she said.

Among the programs the dance company focuses on each year is one project with a historical connection – in the past they’ve done dances at the Paul Revere House in Boston, the Orchard House in Concord and the New England Textile Museum in Lowell.

The video will be projected about 60 feet high on the 80-foot walls of the Water Tower, which will include pieces from the last 10 years of the annual Images of Arlington exhibit of fifth-grade students and adults put on each year by the Arlington Center for the Arts.

"It’s such a cool project," said ACA Executive Director Linda Shoemaker. "Initially the whole concept of the dance in front of the Water Tower with the imagery and the light really intrigued me. I’ve seen that kind of light projection, but not here in Arlington, and the idea of the images, some of them of the Water Tower, on the structure just hooked me in."

Shoemaker and others at the ACA have been going over the 10 years of images depicting many different Arlington perspectives with Guerra, and about 100 have been chosen for this project.

"It’s funny – every year we have more and more images of the Water Tower in our Images of Arlington exhibits, it’s something in town that people are intrigued with," she said.

And that’s not all. The ACA is gathering plein air painters, those who like to paint the effect of outdoor light, to capture the event in their paintings.

"I think the public will really enjoy seeing artists at work interpreting this cool thing," Shoemaker said.

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