Jump to content


Frederic Franklinan appreciation on his 95th birthday - July 9


  • Please log in to reply
31 replies to this topic

#1 atm711

atm711

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,402 posts

Posted 07 July 2009 - 06:21 AM

Most members of Ballettalk in New York City are familiar with Frederic Franklin in his current appearances as the tutor in Swan Lake or the Friar in Romeo & Juliet with ABT. Few, I imagine, saw him dance in his prime. I had the good fortune to see him during his later years with the Ballet Russe. He had an easy going stage presence, i.e., he looked comfortable on the stage. His charm was irrepressible in roles such as Franz in 'Coppelia' or the Champion Roper in 'Rodeo'--two roles, in particular, I have always felt he "owned". Both of these characters fit him like a glove. There was a cool wit in his interpretations---he was a 'nice guy' who didn't take himself too seriously; he could have gentle fun with the roles. Perhaps his early training as a ballroom dancer contributed to his ease of movement. If ballet hadn't claimed him we might have had another Fred Astaire--such was his relaxation and charm.

His persona changed quickly when performing the Favorite Slave in 'Scheherazade'--a commendable performance--ending with the famous Nijinsky spin on-the-back-of-the-neck; and also as Johnny in the controversial 'Frankie and Johnny'. He was not a classical dancer but braved his share of Nutcrackers and Swan Lakes. I saw him once as Albrecht to Chauvire's 'Giselle'.

His most well known role is perhaps the Baron in 'Gaite Parisienne'. He was captured on film by Warner Bros. in the 1940's (The Gay Parisien). Before I saw my first live ballet performance I saw this film many times in the foreign movie houses on 42nd Street. There is also a candid version made up of actual performances of the Ballet Russe.

Thanks for the memories, Mr. Franklin---and thanks to ABT for giving us the priviledge of seeing him once again on the ballet stage. :crying:

#2 Farrell Fan

Farrell Fan

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,930 posts

Posted 07 July 2009 - 07:26 AM

And thanks for your wonderful memories, atm711 :crying:

#3 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 24,099 posts

Posted 07 July 2009 - 11:08 AM

Yes, thanks so much for posting, atm711. I hope Franklin has a wonderful birthday. Long may he wave!

#4 cubanmiamiboy

cubanmiamiboy

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,166 posts

Posted 07 July 2009 - 12:06 PM

I had the privilege to speak to Mr. Franklin when he recently came here to receive some sort of Life Achievement Prize. He was totally charming and a fast responder, and he spoke briefly with me during Intermezzo. I remember asking him about Danilova, to which he laughed and told me that at first he had been scared to dance with her because "I was very young and she was..SOMETHING!"-(meaning her personality), but that later on they paired really good and that she was a great human being. I also had his autograph. :crying:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, YOUNG BOY!!
(Edited to add: I've always been very fond of the Ballet Russes/early Ballet Theater era, so by getting to talk to Mr. Franklin, I felt very honored to have been able to connect with such an important member of this past. He is a living treasure, and I had the same feeling as when I spoke to Mme. Alonso at one point during a book signing in Havana. Both are SO clever and they definitely project this special charm and glamour from that ballet past that I so love...Sometimes I wonder if we are talking full advantage of them while they are still with us...same with other that are still around, Zoritch, etc...)

#5 SandyMcKean

SandyMcKean

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 921 posts

Posted 07 July 2009 - 02:57 PM

I knew little about Franklin until I saw the Ballet Russes DVD. He won me over hook, line, and sinker doing nothing more than the way he "sheparded" all the aging dancers upon the stage for the group tribute documented on that DVD. He struck me as the rare personality who remains charming while having the courage to put himself "out there" as well as having the forcefulness to make things happen by taking charge. (And his being "out there" still at 93 shows he hasn't lost any of that!)

#6 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,239 posts

Posted 07 July 2009 - 05:42 PM

Thank you, atm. That was a wonderful tribute. And happy birthday to Mr. Franklin!

#7 duffster

duffster

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 128 posts

Posted 07 July 2009 - 07:53 PM

I had the honor of working with Mr. Franklin several years ago in Washington DC. He never used any notes when setting a ballet, it was all from his memory. He had hilarious stories about the Ballet Russes. His classes were very tough but gave you the strength needed to survive the one night stands. I asked him once what his most difficult ballet was to perform, he told me it was The Red Poppy. Compliments from him were not given freely. Once I was thrown on as the pigtail girl in Graduation Ball and thought that I had ruined the performance. While getting on the bus after the show, to go back to the hotel, Freddie was sitting there and said to me -very good! That was a moment I will always treasure.

#8 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,310 posts

Posted 08 July 2009 - 03:26 AM

More memories, please! Franklin's has been an extraordinary career, with an amazingly consisstent ommitment to ballet. What a life! It's wonderful to see some of it remembered -- and preserved -- here. :wink:

#9 atm711

atm711

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,402 posts

Posted 08 July 2009 - 09:38 AM

I asked him once what his most difficult ballet was to perform, he told me it was The Red Poppy.



He performed the famous Russian Sailors' Dance (to the Gliere music) and this Englishman was brilliant. He did the deep knee bends (there is a name for this step which I do not know) and then rose triumphantly on his heels with his arms overhead. He regularly brought the house down with this solo. The Ballet Russe did a one-act version (by Igor Schwezoff) of the three-act Soviet ballet. It also included a ribbon dance by a bare-chested Igor Youskevitch (probably on leave from the U.S. Coast Guard during wartime)---and, of course, Danilova as Tai-Hoa. There was grumbling in some newspapers about putting on a Soviet themed ballet---but who could resist such a cast.

#10 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,310 posts

Posted 08 July 2009 - 09:55 AM

Here's Leigh Witchel's New York Post interview with Franklin, originally posted by dirac in the Links forum on Monday.

http://www.nypost.co...tage_177845.htm

Friar Laurence is a small but pivotal role but, as Franklin proves, there are no small parts.

"The entrance, one would die for!" he says. "I open that little door and I'm on this huge stage alone -- there's no one but me!"



#11 Dale

Dale

    Sapphire Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,991 posts

Posted 08 July 2009 - 10:31 AM

Thanks so much, atm711, for these memories. And thanks to others for adding more. At the risk of being self-promoting, DanceViewTimes ran a few features on a talk he gave at Barnard and another at ABT and the Guggenheim:

http://danceviewtime...03/franklin.htm

http://www.danceview...klin-talks.html

#12 Paul Parish

Paul Parish

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,922 posts

Posted 08 July 2009 - 12:59 PM

atm 711, thanks for putting this topic up, and for sharing your experiences. I sure wish I'd seen him then.

One of Kevin McKenzie's great strong points is knowing how not to waste talent.

I anything could make me forgive him for Swamp thing, it's his knowing that Franklin's presence in Romeo and Juliet will give real weight and stature to the performance. Friar Lawrence has a profound sympathy with youth -- 'Our Romeo has not been in bed tonight" or "Such a light step will ne-er wear out the everlasting flint" -- he loves these kids, and Franklin has exactly the temperament for the role. It's a great part, and often given to people who can't give it any weight. Franklin's got the capacity for awe and for study, without which you can't believe that Friar Lawrence would know how to brew these potions.

I'd also love to see him as the Charlatan.

Thanks, Dale, for posting those articles.

#13 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,310 posts

Posted 08 July 2009 - 01:29 PM

Yes, thanks for those marvellous articles, Dale. Was there anyone important Franklin DIDN'T work with or at least know? What a resource. I started to jot down the names --even Josephine Baker !!! -- but ran out of steam. :wink: :o

#14 carbro

carbro

    Late Board Registrar

  • Rest in Peace
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6,361 posts

Posted 05 March 2010 - 02:06 PM

If you love Freddie Franklin (and who doesn't?) you won't want to miss Alex Gallafent's visit with him on today's The World on Public Radio International.

Stick with it until the end (just a shade under 8 minutes) for a precious story I hadn't heard before.

http://www.theworld....1/#comment-6939

The accompanying photo collection is small but well chosen.

#15 innopac

innopac

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 780 posts

Posted 05 March 2010 - 07:01 PM

Thank you, carbro, for that heads up.

A very poignant moment when Franklin talked about performing:

"I can walk onto that huge Met stage... and there is always somebody out there that remembers... which is lovely...."


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):