Marcy Plavin


Marcy Plavin, photographed in fall 1998 by Phyllis Graber Jensen.

Founding Director of the Bates Modern Dance Company and Lecturer in Dance

Read at the Senior-Faculty Dinner, May 22, 2003, on the occasion of her recognition of service, by President Elaine Tuttle Hansen. Prepared by Professor of Physics Eric R. Wollman.

In 1965, the very astute Evelyn Dillon, then professor of physical education for women, hired New York native and recent University of Southern Maine graduate Marcy Plavin as adjunct instructor for two courses in dance technique. This joint has been jumpin’ ever since.

Marcy loves dance, loves to teach dance and has an exceptional capacity for engaging both audience and participants. She has single-handedly brought Bates to national prominence in dance, which seems almost incidental to the fact that along the way she has brightened the lives and lifted the spirits of thousands of people.

The remarkable upward trajectory of dance at Bates is well documented. In the spring of 1969, Marcy’s newly created Bates College Modern Dance Company gave its first public performance. Two years later, Marcy, by then lecturer in dance, took the show on the road for performances and workshops in area public schools, a tradition that continues up to the present day.

By the early ’80s, Bates dancers were gaining recognition in the prestigious New England Regional American College Dance Festival, an event subsequently hosted by Bates five times. The summer of 1983 saw the first Bates Dance Festival, now approaching its 21st season.

Marcy, in the meantime, moved from physical education to the Department of Theater and Rhetoric — called Theater and Speech back then — and found time to complete a master’s degree at Wesleyan University, awarded in 1984. By the end of the decade, the dance program at Bates had launched successful careers and was offering a solid curriculum in dance technique, choreography, production, performance and history. Six years ago the Department of Theater and Rhetoric established the secondary concentration in dance.

These accomplishments have demanded enormous energy, skill, wisdom and perseverance. Add Marcy’s very big heart, and it is no surprise that former students want to stay in touch. The 20th anniversary of the formation of the Bates Modern Dance Company drew more than 70 Bates dance alumni. Well more than 150 returned for the 30th reunion in 1999. Obviously we must prepare for more than 200 — maybe 300 to be safe — at the 35th reunion now being planned.

Of course, when former Bates dancers are in town, they are likely to be staying at Marcy and Leonard’s home on Mountain Avenue. Among the dancer-houseguest regulars, by the way, are two current Bates trustees. No doubt their dedication to Bates is in part devotion to Marcy, reciprocating Marcy’s devotion and dedication to her students.

Marcy improves the world around her in other ways as well. She has collaborated with colleagues, advised independent studies, arranged visits by guest artists, sought and received grants in support of dance, served on various College committees, contributed to the general welfare of her department, advanced the public understanding and appreciation of dance in particular and the arts in general, and provided assistance to a wide variety of civic and professional organizations.

Marcy, on behalf of your students, your faculty colleagues, and your friends, we are honored to recognize you and extend our deep appreciation, indebtedness and best wishes.