The Bates Dance Festival ~ Origins
For over thirty years, the Bates Dance Festival in Lewiston, Maine, has welcomed dancers from across the country and around the world to “Study with the best!” Its founders knew from the outset that inviting the field’s most outstanding dance artists to come and teach would be a key to the program’s success.
Reflecting back on the Festival’s first season in 1983, Ms. Plavin recalls, “we had seventy eager students whose diversity in age equaled their diversity in ability. With five class periods a day for three weeks, plus evening events and gala concerts, the format was set. The teachers that first year were David Gordon (composition), Christine Sarry (ballet), Gary Chryst (jazz), Suzanne Levy Cabonneau (dance history), Monica Morris (former Paul Taylor dancer, modern) and guest artist Jacques d’Amboise. It was an auspicious beginning.”In 1982, Marcy Plavin, Professor of Dance Emeritus at Bates College, was approached by Hedley Reynolds, then-President of Bates, about establishing a dance festival on campus as a way to use the gracious and largely vacant facilities during the summer months. With full College backing, she and Frank Wicks, a Maine resident and active member of the dance community, set about hiring the best teachers they could find. When the lineup was complete, notices were placed in Dance Magazine and other publications.