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Dancer, choreographer, video, and improvisation artist Merián Soto, is the creator of aesthetic-somatic dance practices and methodologies, Branch Dancing and Modal Practice. Her 40+ years career in dance has spanned various artistic movements. A central figure in the ‘80s and ‘90s Latina Arts, Equity, and Community Arts movements in New York City, Soto has collaborated extensively with visual artist Pepón Osorio on full-evening interdisciplinary works such as Historias (1992-1999), hailed as an American masterpiece, and Familias (1995), created in collaboration with eight South Bronx families. Soto is also known for her experiments with Salsa, in critically acclaimed works such as Así se baila un Son (1999) and La Máquina del Tiempo (2004). Since 2005, she has developed Branch Dancing, a meditative movement practice with branches that investigates consciousness in performance, and the Branch Dance Series, which includes dozens of performances on stage, in galleries, and in nature, as well as video installations, and year-long seasonal projects including the award-winning One Year Wissahickon Park Project (2007-08).  

Committed to supporting new Latino dance and performance arts and artists, Soto is Founding Artistic Director, along with Patti Bradshaw and Pepón Osorio, of Pepatián, the Bronx-based, multi-disciplinary Latino arts organization. In that capacity, she developed and produced numerous projects featuring works by emerging Latino dance and performance artists, including the Latino dance and performance festival, Rompeforma, co- created with Viveca Vázquez, and presented in Puerto Rico from 1989-1996. 

Since 1999, Soto teaches Dance at Temple University in Philadelphia, where she has developed Modal Practice, the improvisational methodology now practiced widely by choreographers in Philadelphia, New York, Puerto Rico and beyond. Soto is Curator of the Temple University Institute of Dance Scholarship’s Reflection/Response Choreographic Commission, supporting the work of choreographers such as Kathy Westwater, Lela Aisha Jones, Awilda Sterling Duprey and Marion Ramírez. Her writings on dance have been published in Choreographic Practices, Heresies Magazine, Movement Research Journal, and Contact Quarterly.

Soto is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including a New York Dance and Performance Award BESSIE for sustained achievement in 2000, a Greater Philadelphia Dance and Physical Theater Award “ROCKY” in 2008 for her One Year Wissahickon Park Project, a Pew Fellowship in the Arts (2015), a Leeway Foundation Transformation Award (2016), Rauschenberg Foundation Residency (2017), and most recently a 2019 United States Artists Doris Duke Fellowship in Dance. 

Current projects include Modes, a performance, exhibition, and scholarship project summarizing Modal Practice; and Rompeforma ¡Fenomenal! 1989-1996, a documentary on the celebrated Latinx performance festival, co-produced with Viveca Vázquez; and an ongoing collaboration with choreographer Silvana Cardell as performer with Cardell Dance  Theater. 



Merián Soto/Performance Practice
" I want us to remember that we are nature" 
  Merián Soto
Photo: Bill Hebert
Photo: Mark Poucher


Merián Soto and Eiko Otake
 joint Wirtz Art Residency at 
Northwestern University May 3-17. Stay tuned!

El mundo nunca será el mismo 
video 
review by Lowel Fiet 

Tú y Yo, Merián Soto's solo improvisation presented in the exhibition Anarquía y Dialéctica en el Deseo at MAC PR. 

Merián in El Nuevo Día

Merián's work featured in Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive
Nuevxs Latinidades: 
Merián Soto
 and RUBBERBANDance Group


Merian Soto named a 2019 United States Artists Doris Duke Fellow in Dance


Merián Soto and Viveca Vázquez awarded a NALAC arts grant for Rompeforma ¡Fenomenal! 1989-1996, a documentary on the renowned Latinx performance festival in Puerto Rico. 


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