THE TIME TRAVELER'S LENS
About the Project
Combining history, technology, and dance, The Time Traveler’s Lens uses 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 elsewhere.
This immersive, yet Covid-safe, performance invites visitors to become active participants in the colonnade’s history. Shot in 360, no two viewings of this work will be alike! 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.
Special thanks to Rutgers University's Mason Gross School of the Arts for its generous support of this project.
About the Company
The Time Traveler’s Lens is Luminarium Dance Company’s 2021 Cultural Community Outreach Project—a custom-tailored annual event that integrates history, choreography, and the arts to celebrate a town’s cultural and historic landmarks. This annual project is led by Luminarium artistic director Merli V. Guerra, an award-winning choreographer, filmmaker, and interdisciplinary artist. The production also serves as Guerra’s culminating thesis concert as a current MFA in Dance candidate at Rutgers University.
Founded by Merli V. Guerra and Kimberleigh A. Holman in 2010, Luminarium is an award-winning contemporary dance company in its 11th season that is regularly hailed for its unique combination of dance and illumination. Luminarium’s mission is two-fold, stemming from the word “luminary” (n. 1. a body that gives off light 2. sheds light on some subject or enlightens mankind). Luminarium has two professional performance companies: its home base company is in Boston, MA; its satellite company is in Princeton, NJ. Luminarium is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
Meet the Artists
Meet the artists behind The Time Traveler's Lens:
Merli V. Guerra
Merli V. Guerra (MFA in Dance, Rutgers University) is a professional choreographer and award-winning interdisciplinary artist with a background in ballet, modern, and classical Odissi Indian dance. She is Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Luminarium Dance Company—merging dance with video projection and nontraditional lighting design since 2010—and has performed lead roles with acclaimed companies on tours to India (2007, 2012) and Japan (2009). Guerra is a freelance choreographer, filmmaker, writer, and graphic designer whose works have been presented by 80+ events across the U.S., and abroad in Argentina, Canada, Georgia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Portugal, and Spain. She is a 2015 recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s prestigious Gold Star Award for her work with site-specific dance and community engagement, and presented on her work with merging dance and history through AR/VR/XR technologies at Our World Heritage International Globinar 2.0 (2021), and Harvard University Virtual/Augmented Reality (2021). Guerra regularly creates commissioned performances and installations for venues ranging from gardens and art walks to the opening act performance for TEDxCambridge, the largest TED event worldwide (Boston Opera House, 2016). Guerra now continues her work in Boston in addition to her more recent work in the Mid-Atlantic, directing Luminarium’s Satellite Company in Princeton, NJ, and teaching as a Part-Time Lecturer at Rider University and Rutgers University. Learn more at merliguerra.com.
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Gabriella Ann Boes
Gabriella Ann Boes (Luminarium company member) first performed with Luminarium at the Liberty Hall Dance Festival in 2018. She is a Rider University graduate (2020) with a degree in Dance Performance. Gabriella has danced in and choreographed for the Rider Dance Ensemble and Rider Dance Team. She co-choreographed Moons and Tides for Rider Dances 2019: The Dance and Sustainability Project, and presented a poster on the project at the 2019 National Dance Education Organization Conference in Miami, FL.
Dane Burch (Luminarium company member) started his journey at Montclair State University where he decided to pursue his dance career from the moment he finished his first class at nineteen years old. Dane has performed with several groups including Free Space Dance, Jersey City Dancers, and Nikki Manx Dance Project. He is passionate about nurturing the technical and artistic abilities of his students. Dane is ecstatic to be part of Luminarium’s creative process in exploring history and combining it with dance.
Anna Fredeen (Luminarium company member) has danced for 20 years with studios in Connecticut and New Jersey. After two years at Texas Christian University, she now studies at Rider University focusing on Dance Science. Fredeen has attended dance intensives in New York City and performed at venues including The Joyce Theater, Peridance, Disney World, and The Orange Bowl. She currently is an instructor at the Dance Factory in Skillman, NJ, where she teaches ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, and modern.
Victoria Kreutzer (Luminarium company member) is a standing senior at Rider University, double-majoring in Dance and Psychology. She joined Luminarium in 2019 for its Global Water Dances: South performance and was later featured in the company’s 2019 production Luminarium in Concert in Cambridge, MA. Rider credits include performing in the annual production of Rider Dances, being Production Stage Manager for the Rider Senior Capstone performance, and showcasing her own choreography, Like Clockwork, at Rider Dance Day 2020.
Elizabeth Malone (Luminarium company member) holds an MFA in Dance from Rutgers University and a BFA in Dance from Cornish College of the Arts. As a Part-Time Lecturer at Rutgers, Elizabeth taught ballet, modern, Dance Composition, and Dance Appreciation Online. She performed with ARC Dance Company in Seattle for two seasons before joining ReVision dance company in Washington, DC, where she led dance classes for children, teens, and adults with disabilities, while teaching at Joy of Motion Dance Center.
Nikola Palivoda (Luminarium company member) began dancing with his church's traditional Serbian Folk Dance group, Dukati, where he performed, and choreographed for 20 years. Palivoda trained and performed with dance programs at Middlesex County College, Montclair State University, Raritan Valley Community College, Nikki Manx Dance Project, T.MAJ Dance, HealthQuest Fitness, and Freespace Dance, among others. He produces and directs annual dance concerts with Main Street Theatre Company Community Theatre and UCPAC'S Hamilton Stage with Rahway Arts + Business Partnership.
Sean Connolly (guest artist) is an Associate Director at Bristol Myers Squibb in Research and Development Analytics. He received his MBA and MPH from Boston University before relocating to Central New Jersey. Originally from Fayetteville, NY, Sean grew up performing in local musical productions, and is thrilled to once again perform through Merli's work. In his free time, he enjoys attending stage productions, exploring new culinary experiences, and spending time with his wife, Merli, and their puppy, Banksy.
Jeff Horenstein (guest artist) received his B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College, and his Ph.D. in Biology from Columbia University. He joined the New York City Teaching Fellows program in 2009, and has been teaching Biology in the New York City public schools ever since. Jeff did some theater in high school and college. He would like to thank Merli for giving him the opportunity to see what performing feels like after all these years.
Lovisa Lane (guest artist) is a British International Development professional, currently working in the Tech-for-Good space at Blackbaud as a Senior Strategic P2P adviser. Lovisa grew up in Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany, gained her MSc in the United Kingdom and spent the last decade moving around Asia and the east coast. Now settled in Pennsylvania, USA, her newest hobbies are agility with co-guest artists Maisie and Kurt and bombarding her dear artist friend Merli's thesis.
Kurt Mendelson (guest artist) is a tenured Account Executive with Lincoln Financial Group. He attended Dickinson College before starting his career in greater Philadelphia. While currently residing in Yardley, PA, Kurt has a passion for international travel. He is an avid tennis player and loves spending time hiking with his wife, Lovisa, and their dog, Maisie.
Banksy & Maisie
Banksy Guerra-Connolly and Maisie Lane-Mendelson (guest artists) are without doubt the most genuine performers in the entire Time Traveler's Lens production! Catch them in the 1940s-inspired film "Dwelling." When not performing for the camera, Lady Banks (Goldendoodle) enjoys playing with the neighborhood kids and stealing any sock she can get her paws on, while Miss Maisie (Bordador) works towards her degree in agility course mastery. When together, these two besties can be found racing around the garden, chewing on either end of a bone, or thieving human food from the picnic table.
Trevor J. Walker
Trevor J. Walker (composer | drummer) is an NYC-based drummer and an alumnus of Berklee College of Music. His first drum set was comprised of squeaky dog toys and TV trays until his parents relented and got him a shiny blue one. He records electric drums in his tiny NY apartment kitchen, performs with glam rock band The Manimals, and briefly lived on a cruise ship where he only got sea sick once.
Stephanette Schwartz-Smith (lighting designer) spent five seasons as Production Coordinator for the Williams Center for the Arts (Lafayette College) before joining Rutgers Dance. She holds an MFA in Lighting Design (Illinois State University). Her designs have been presented by Lafayette College, Lehigh Valley Dance Exchange, Long Beach Opera, Long Beach Ballet, Infamous Commonwealth Theatre (Chicago), and The Actors Gang (Hollywood). Recent projects include Heddatron (Lighting Design), DancePlus Fall 2019 (Lighting Design) and Vanity Fair (Director).
Jeff Friedman (artistic advisor | orator) is an interdisciplinary dance artist and doctoral scholar, with an interest in combining theory and practice towards “praxis.” Trained in architecture at Cornell and University of Oregon, Friedman first developed several multi-disciplinary site-specific events. Jeff is a tenured professor at Rutgers University where he teaches dance philosophy and aesthetics, history of interdisciplinarity and cross-interdisciplinary creative methods. He is Graduate Director of the MFA in Dance program, focusing on interdisciplinary praxis, critical pedagogy, and social justice community engagement.
Pam Tanowitz (artistic advisor) is a New York-based choreographer and founder of Pam Tanowitz Dance. Her 2018 creation, Four Quartets, inspired by T.S. Eliot’s literary masterpiece, was called “the greatest creation of dance theater so far this century” (The New York Times). She has created or set work for New York City Ballet, Martha Graham Dance Company, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, The Royal Ballet, The Kennedy Center’s Ballet Across America, Juilliard Dance, Ballet Austin, and New York Theatre Ballet.