LEWISTON — Nearly 90 alumni of the Bates College dance program will perform in a concert honoring the program’s founder, Marcy Plavin, and her late husband, dance photographer Leonard Plavin, on Saturday, April 30.

Also featuring the current Bates College Modern Dance Company, the performance is open to the public at no cost. Seating is first-come, first-seated. The performance will begin at 8 p.m. in Schaeffer Theatre, 305 College St. For more information, call 786-6487.

Closing the program will be the dance “A Moment in Focus: Dance Images by Leonard Plavin,” commemorating the passion and achievement of a photographer who shot some 10,000 images of the Modern Dance Company from its founding in 1969 until 2004.

Choreographed around projections of images by Plavin, and set to jazz music that he loved, the piece is both a dynamic history of the company founded by Marcy Plavin and a tribute to the photographer.

The concert is the capstone in a three-day reunion of Bates dance alumni, resuming a tradition of gatherings put on hiatus by Plavin’s illness and passing in April 2010. “There was a pent-up demand to get back together,” said Dervilla McCann, a cardiologist practicing in Auburn who is a member of the Bates class of 1977 and a former MDC performer.

“We said, ‘Let’s do it again, and let’s make it about Leonard’s work,’ ” she said.

Works in the first half of the concert include “Amazing Grace,” choreographed by Kim Kavazanjian, class of 2004, and performed by alumni; the dance video “Jill and Jack,” directed by Carrie Noel Richer, class of 2001; a section of Richer’s dance thesis, “Swelling Dialogues,” performed by alumni; and “We’re Back!” — a work choreographed by Lynda Plavin Fitzgerald and performed by the current MDC. The daughter of Marcy and Leonard, Fitzgerald is coordinator of the dance program at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, Md.

The piece is “great for the reunion because it combines smart humor with full-bodied dancing. Audiences love it,” said Rachel Boggia, visiting assistant professor of dance and acting director while the permanent director, Associate Professor of Dance Carol Dilley, is on sabbatical.

McCann conceived of “A Moment in Focus.” The piece is composed of a series of life-size projections against which the alumni dancers will move and ultimately coalesce into tableaux matching the images. Dating back to the 1970s, the images represent 50 different dances choreographed by Marcy Plavin, students and guests, and performed by successive generations of the MDC.

Plavin dedicated countless hours of his free time to shooting Bates dance. “To take these photographs, he had to know the dances,” McCann said. “He was able to set up his shots because he knew what the piece was going to look like, and he knew where to be.”

“In ‘A Moment in Focus,’ we’ll be able to see the depth and breadth of what Leonard was able to capture. But it will also present, in a way, the history of the dance program. It will have this amazing resonance,” she said.

Coming to Bates in 1965 and retiring 40 years later, Marcy Plavin created the current dance program and introduced hundreds of Bates students to the discipline of dance.

With the recent establishment of a dance major, “it’s an auspicious moment to bring so many generations of dance alums together to celebrate both the dynamic past and the exciting new future for dance at Bates,” Dilley said.

The Bates dance program is known for performances by the MDC and guests, frequent collaborations with community dance groups and a strong roster of visiting choreographers. Besides launching the MDC, Marcy Plavin instituted visiting programs in local schools and founded the world-renowned Bates Dance Festival.

Former students include choreographer John Carrafa and dance historian Suzanne Carbonneau, both major names in dance. “It’s impossible to underestimate the impact that Marcy has had on the national dance scene,” said Michael Foley, a member of the Bates class of 1989 and an associate professor of dance at the University of South Florida. “She literally sent hundreds of dancers out into the world with the Bates name attached to them.”

Laura Beare, left, and Amy Burkhardt perform a scene from Carrie Noel Richer’s “Swelling Dialogues” at Bates College in 2001.


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