• Fri. Jun 24th, 2022

The Pittsfield Theater Company will present an original ballet in Waterville

ByLinda W. Smith

May 21, 2022

Dancers from Bossov Ballet Theater and senior Maine Central Institute graduates will be featured in the original ballet “I’m Still Here” May 28-29 at the Strider Theater at Colby College in Waterville. Left to right, Hector Bligh, son of Adrian and Eleanor Bligh of East Amherst, Nova Scotia; and Taylor Pronovost, daughter of Debra and Eric Pronovost of Cumberland Foreside. Bossov Ballet Theater

Andrew Carroll, New York Times bestselling author and founding director of the Center for American War Letters, plans to perform his original ballet, “I’m Still Here,” at the Bossov Ballet Theater this month.

The show is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, May 28 and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 29 at Colby College’s Strider Theater at 4520 Mayflower Hill Drive in Waterville.

Inspired by Carroll’s book, ‘War Letters’, BBT Director Natalya Getman’s original creation is an imaginative response to the last letter written by 21-year-old Lt. Tommie Kennedy to his parents, knowing he was never wasn’t going to live to see them. again, according to a press release from the Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield.

Kennedy had endured the Bataan Death March in the Pacific during World War II, and he was a prisoner of war for almost three years, often living on “hellships” with little food or water. The original letter was written on the back of a family photo which he had managed to conceal, and he gave the letter to another POW before escaping to the deck of the ship and jumping overboard to end his misery. The letter was passed along a chain of friends until it finally arrived home. Carroll will show the original letter as part of his May 28 presentation.

According to Getman, the extraordinary journey of Kennedy’s letter illustrates not only the fragility of people’s connection to the past, but also the power of individual history to bring it to life in the present. “When I read Tommie’s letter, I couldn’t help but hear his ‘voice’. I thought it was important to let others hear him, especially our younger generation” , said Getman.

At a time when the impact of war is center stage for a new generation, Getman believes exploring it through dance helps his students connect to an experience that might otherwise remain abstract and distant.

BBT dancer Hector Bligh from East Amherst, Nova Scotia recognizes this opportunity and responsibility. “I am part of a generation that has not been touched by the cruelties of war, but that means it is extremely important to me to perform this ballet with precision and respect, in the hope of touching someone one who may have felt the feelings I aim to portray,” Bligh said.

Carroll said: “I am very excited about this performance, as I have seen these war letters used in books, films and readings, but never as inspiration for a ballet. I think it shows how evocative these letters are and resonate with so many people, even though they have no connection to the military. And if anyone coming to the Saturday event has any war letters or emails to share, we’re still looking.

Ticket reservations can be made at mci-school.org/bbt-tickets. The theater welcomes donations to help defray production costs. BBT will dedicate a portion of proceeds to support the American Legion Department of Maine.

For more information about Bossov Ballet Theater, visit mci-school.org/ballet.

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