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Bates Dance Festival records

Identifier: CA10.01

Scope and Content Note

The collection documents the administrative, educational, creative, outreach, and public relations aspects of the Bates Dance Festival from its founding in 1982 under the initial co-directorship of Marcy Plavin, until the present. There are extensive administrative records, including student transcripts, evaluations, and registration information; faculty contracts; payroll information for faculty, staff and student assistants; budgets; information about grants applied for and received from state and national agencies; membership information; and course descriptions and schedules. Publicity and marketing efforts are documented in a separate series with that name which includes newspaper and magazine clippings of articles and reviews about the Festival, ads bought and sold by the Festival, press releases, and correspondence with media contacts.

The Faculty and Creative Personnel series provides extensive information about the instructors, performers, lighting designers, accompanists, and other artistic individuals who are the lifeblood of the Festival. The series is comprised largely of professional publicity photographs; press kits with reviews and articles from newspapers and magazines; curriculum vitae and other biographical information; and correspondence with Festival staff. Two series, Community Outreach and Special Projects, document ongoing programs and special events sponsored by the Festival, often in collaboration with other creative organizations, and with the involvement with community groups and members. There is, for example, extensive information about Doug Varone's work, "A Momentary Order," which premiered at the Libbey Mill in Lewiston, Maine in October 1992 and takes as its inspiration the Franco-American culture of the Lewiston-Auburn area.

The collection also includes several format-specific series, particularly Audio Recordings and Transcripts, Video Recordings, Publications, and Concert Guides and Programs, which taken together provide a multi-faceted, multi-media history of the Festival and its creative output. There are transcripts of informal, yet inspirational, artists' conversations, and video recordings of most main stage performances, the annual Festival Finale, and the improvisational "Moving in the Moment" faculty performance and concert, among other events. The Photographs Series documents Festival performances, rehearsals, and classes with mainly informal, candid images. The Concert Guides and Programs and the Publications series provide important background about events, programs, classes, and projects.

The textual records along with the video and audio recordings and photographs that comprise the collection ensure that the important and original work performed and created at the Bates Dance Festival will not be lost despite its ephemeral nature. From the records, students can learn a choreographer's phrases, research technical notes, or read reviews of past performers. Because several dancers and choreographers have performed or taught at the Festival many times over the years, it is even possible to chart the artistic development of some of the most well-established and best-known dancers in the country by consulting the records.


  • 1983-[ongoing]


Access Restrictions

Faculty and staff contracts, student transcripts, and some financial records are restricted for privacy reasons. Consult the Archives staff for more information.

Video recordings are provided for viewing purposes only and cannot be copied.

Use Restrictions

The collection is the physical property of Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library. Bates College holds literary rights only for material created by College personnel working on official behalf of the College, or for material which was given to the College with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from rights holders for publication or other purposes that exceed fair use.

Historical Note

The Bates Dance Festival, held annually at Bates College, is the leading presenter of contemporary dance in northern New England during the summer. The Festival is an intensive five-week series which brings together more than 60 artistically and ethnically diverse dance artists with 345 students to study, perform and create new work in contemporary, world and traditional dance. Since its founding in 1982, the Festival has grown into a nationally recognized program known for its community projects, supportive and noncompetitive environment, and performances by important contemporary artists.

The Bates Dance Festival is comprised of four related programs: the Young Dancers Workshop (YDW), a rigorous two-week program serving pre-professional dancers ages 13-17 co-directed by Laura Faure and Michael Foley (1996-ongoing); the Three-Week Professional Training Program serving dancers ages 18 and up; a main-stage performances series featuring renowned contemporary dance artists from around the world; and community outreach activities, including the Youth Arts Program serving local youth ages 6-17 with dance and music training, and the Community Dance Project that invites local residents to participate in an intensive creative collaboration with a choreographer and Festival dancers. Commissioning and residency projects, including the International Visiting Artists and the Emerging Choreographer's programs, support new works by established companies, emerging choreographers, and international artists.

The Festival began in the fall of 1982 when Thomas Hedley Reynolds, president of Bates College, encouraged Marcy Plavin, Director of Dance, to create a summer dance program on campus. The Festival was borne of Plavin's desire to create "an intensive 3-week program in dance offering opportunities to study with today's leading teachers and choreographers...[in] daily classes and workshops in modern dance, ballet, jazz, composition, repertory, dance history and criticism, and movement analysis." The first festival was a small, regionally based program with 70 students and five classes a day.

From 1983 to 1987, more students were attracted to the festival and the faculty steadily increased to meet this demand. Plavin served as co-director of the Festival with Frank Wicks from 1983 to 1984 and as Dean of the Festival from 1984 to 1987. Andrea Stark served as Festival Director from 1984 to 1985, followed by Elizabeth Zimmer who served from 1985 to 1987. During the 1986 Festival, Raymond Dionne was hired as marketing coordinator. Zimmer and Stark were each under a contract that covered part-time duties pre- and post-festival; during the festival, they were employed full-time. Laura Faure was contracted as Director beginning with the 1988 festival, and was hired by Bates College on March 6, 1989 as a full-time employee. In 1999, intern Alison Hart was hired by the college as assistant to the director and registrar for festival programs, and was followed by Nancy Salmon.

The director and assistant director are the only full-time staff members who support the festival. Additional support is received from work-study students and contracted summer staff, including Box Office Manager Bill Doolin (1996-ongoing), Technical Director David Covey (2000-ongoing), Dance Historian/Lecturer Suzanne Carbonneau (Levy) (1983-1987 and 1992), and professional videographer Peter Richards (2001-ongoing). A program of the Bates College Office of Special Projects and Summer Programs from its inception until 2003, the Festival is now under the auspices of the Dean of Faculty.

Many top American and international choreographers and dance artists have performed at the festival over the years, including Dan Wagoner and Dancers, Bebe Miller Company, Eiko and Koma, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, David Dorfman Dance, Doug Varone, and Rennie Harris Pure Movement among many others. Dance company choreographers and dancers teach classes, rehearse in Bates facilities including Plavin Studios, Chase Hall, Alumni and Merrill Gymnasiums, and the Olin Arts Center and in community centers like Lewiston Public Library and the New Life Center on College Street, and perform repertory and new pieces for students and the public throughout the festival. The majority of the faculty performs in "Moving in the Moment," an improvisational dance and music performance. Faculty members generally meet to plan a bit of structure or a theme for the evening, but all the music and movement are created on the spot. Another annual event, the Musician's Concert, showcases the compositions and improvisations of ten or more festival musicians in residence. The "Different Voices" concert showcases a number of artists, including the International Visiting Artists and the Emerging Choreographers. Before the performances, dance historian Suzanne Carbonneau (Levy) presents "Inside Dance" lectures about the performers' work for anyone who wishes to attend. She also writes program notes on select artists for inclusion in the program.

Students of the Festival can chose from a wide range of classes in Modern, Ballet, Jazz, Hip Hop, Improvisation, Repertory, Somatics, Pedagogy, Creative Process, and more. Over 32 classes are offered each summer. Evenings are filled with rehearsals, performance opportunities, talks and lectures with faculty, jam sessions and informal gatherings. The last Saturday of the festival, students perform repertory works created in collaboration with visiting choreographers at the Festival Finale in Alumni Gymnasium.

Participants of all ages attend the festival each summer. The student body is made up equally of students from college dance programs, dance educators, and professionals. Nearly 40% of participants receive some assistance to attend through merit and work study scholarships. The festival also offers internships in technical production, videography, dance education and arts administration. Teacher fellowships are awarded to eight high school dance teachers each summer. Awards are funded through a variety of sources.


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Language of Materials



The collection documents the administrative, educational, creative, outreach, and public relations aspects of the Bates Dance Festival, which is held annually each summer at Bates College, from its founding in 1982 until the present.

Organization and Arrangement

The collection is arranged into twelve series: I. Administrative files; II. Advisory Council; III. Faculty and Creative Personnel; IV. Community Outreach; V. Special Projects; VI. Concert Guides and Programs; VII. Publications; VIII. Publicity and Marketing; IX. Video Recordings; X. Audio Recordings; XI. Photographs; XII. Student Transcripts See individual series notes for more detailed information.

Location Note

Use copies of video recordings are located on DVDs in the archives reading room, with the exception of video recordings from 2013 on, which are stored electronically, but still accessible in the archives reading room.

Acquisition and Custody Information

Historic records were transferred from the Bates Dance Festival office in 2001. Accruals are received each summer at the conclusion of the Festival. Accession No.: N/A.

Related Material

Dance Collection, New York Public Library. Includes copies of all Bates Dance Festival videorecordings from 1984 to the present.

BDF Website in Bates Website Collection

BDF Blog in Bates Website Collection

Processing Information

Processed by Adrienne Byrd, Betsy Miller, Zoia Cisneros, and Peter Richards, with consultation from Pat Rader and Kurt Kuss and funding from the Maine Historical Collections Grant Program.

Final arrangement and description by Kat Stefko, 2006.


Guide to the Bates Dance Festival records, 1983-[ongoing]
Edited Full Draft
Kat Stefko
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Description is in: English
Edition statement

Repository Details

Part of the Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library Repository

70 Campus Avenue
Lewiston Maine 04240 United States of America