Hours of rehearsal, tears of happiness, and reminiscent rendezvous were rampant at the Bates Alumni Dance Reunion on the weekend of May 1st through 3rd.
This event marked the 46th anniversary of the Bates Dance Department by the iconic Marcy Plavin. Plavin served as the dance director at Bates until her retirement in 2003 when Carol Dilley, the current director, took over.
The reunion (occurring only every five years) not only served as a reconnection for dance alumni, but it was also comprised of dance pieces and other special events honoring Plavin’s remarkable achievements at Bates and the lives she changed along the way. All of the returning alumni agree that Plavin holds a permanent place in their hearts as she passionately instilled lifelong lessons and friendships in and out of the dance studios.
“I really can’t put into words what Marcy Plavin has meant to me and to Bates Dance,” Sarahbelle Marsh ’05 said. “I can quote my own mother though. In all my major life decisions she has asked, ‘Well, what does Marcy think? Life is easier when you just do what Marcy says,’ and like Marcy, my mother is never wrong.”
The weekend began with rehearsals for a piece featuring current Bates students as well as alumnae Marsh and Laura Medina ’02, choreographed by Lynda Plavin, Marcy’s daughter.
Medina moved to New York City right after graduating, where she took dance classes before getting her masters degree in religious studies and gender from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She now lives in South Portland, Maine and owns her own Rolfing practice and teaches yoga. In 2013, she married a fellow Batesie, also a member of the class of 2005.
Prior to the alumni reunion, Medina was in contact with Dilley about bringing a dance piece she made as a senior and creating cast of half current and half graduated Batesies.
“We thought it would be nice to have a piece showing a continuing thread of new and old,” Medina said. “However, that particular piece is a beast and there was no way to get it together in time.” However, being in Plavin’s piece with current students was a perfect alternative.
After working with the current Bates students, she said, “I LOVED dancing and performing with the current students. Walking back into the studio felt like nothing had changed, that space is home to me, and all the faces in there are my dearest friends, whether I have met them or not. The current students are an amazing bunch of young dancers and I feel so privileged to have been able to get to dance with them.”
Sam Thomas ’15 was also part of the cast for this particular piece.
“I was really interested in this show because I knew that so many past Bates dancers would be coming back to campus to take part in the same program that has welcomed me at Bates,” she claimed. “I knew that there would be so many different types of Batesies in one space that had something in common and that my turn to join the outside world as one of them is just around the corner.”
Reconnecting with fellow Bates alums for this heart-tugging event always creates a warm environment in the studios and on the stage that spreads into the entire Bates community.
“Reuniting with my college dancers is always the highlight of my year,” Medina said. “This is the second reunion I have been to and they are truly heart-filling. It never ceases to amaze me how we can come back together like no time has passed. We create dances like we have always done. We dance like we have always done. And we hug, a lot. Creating art with someone builds a bond that is unlike any other friendship, and being able to step back into the creative process is a wonderful gift that only Bates College can give.”
Although Thomas is not yet an alumna, she still had much to say about reunion.
“The Alumni Reunion this year confirmed everything that I knew about dancing at Bates: it is the most wonderful community and shared space to be a part of,” she exclaimed. “When taking a class with Dante Brown this semester, I learned one of the most important lessons about the dance community I had become a part of. He told us that the space we had entered was to be a positive one, where we encourage our fellow artists and cheer them on in energy, spirit, and movement; in that one moment Dante had inspired me to be the best version of myself and to smile while doing it. This idea of positivity and support stuck with me as I realized the Bates dance community was all of that. I was walking in the footsteps of so many dancers before me who came back for reunion to relish in the same moments that I have found so special here.”