WATERVILLE — The Bossov Ballet Theatre will perform an original ballet, “I’m Still Here,” at Colby College over Memorial Day weekend.

The performances will feature a presentation by Andrew Carroll, who edited the book “War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars,” which inspired the production.

The performances will be held at the Strider Theater at Colby College, 4520 Mayflower Drive, on Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

The Bossov Ballet Theatre is a performing company and a pre-professional ballet school at Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield.

The production is inspired by the last letter written by Army Lt. Tommie Kennedy, a 21-year-old soldier in World War II, to his family in California. The letter is one of many compiled in Carroll’s book, and he will show the original letter as part of his presentation ahead of the performances.

“When I read Tommie’s letter, I couldn’t stop hearing his ‘voice,'” Natalya Getman, the Bossov Ballet Theatre artistic director, said in a news release. “I thought it was important to make it heard by others, especially by our younger generation.”

Kennedy served in the Pacific theater fighting Japanese military forces, and was a prisoner of war for almost three years. He survived the Bataan Death March, a forced march from the Philippines’ Bataan province to a military camp in that country’s Tarlac province. The march was over 60 miles and while estimates on the number of prisoners who died during the march varies, there were at least hundreds who lost their lives at the hands of Japanese captors.

Kennedy was often held on “hell ships,” the name given to Japanese ships that held prisoners of war because the vessels lacked space, food, water and more. He was able to conceal a family photograph and wrote his final letter on the back of it. Kennedy gave the letter to a fellow prisoner before he escaped to the deck of the ship and jumped overboard to his death to end his misery.

“I’m very excited about this performance, because I’ve seen these war letters used in books, films and in readings, but never as an inspiration for a ballet,” Carroll said in the release. “I think it demonstrates how evocative these letters are and how they resonate with so many people, even if they have no connection to the military.”

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