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Frederic Franklinan appreciation on his 95th birthday - July 9


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#16 sandik

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 08:10 PM

This was indeed very sweet -- I'm so glad that they aired it!

#17 Richka

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 05:29 PM

To those who were fortunate enough to have seen Frederic Franklin dance in his youth I can only envy. I only saw him dance once when I was very young. It was during the last days of Ballet Russe on one of their long tours with a stop over in Boston. The ballet was Night Shadow, later called La Sonambula. All I can remember of it was Alexandra Danilova picking him up in her arms and bourreeing off upstage left with him cradled in her arms. Could that really be right? I've never seen that done in later productions so I wonder if my young eyes then could have left me with a distorted memory.
I met Franklin many years later as an adult with the Harkness Ballet. He dropped by and sat with a few of us in the canteen at Harkness House. He seemed an English gentleman. A few years later, as I was staging Pakita for Ballet West in Salt Lake City, Framklin had just finished staging Raymonda for them and had left. I wondered why Ballet West did not also have him stage Pakita while he was there, instead of flying me in to do it. But it could have been the director (Bruce Marks) wanted the Kirov version that I knew rather than the Ballet Russe version. Still, that would have been interesting to see.
Unlike others, fortunate enough to be in NY to see him with ABT, I only saw the ABT Swan Lake on TV with him as the tutor, in his advanced years of course. I wonder why England has never Knighted him but probably because he spent most all of his long life dancing in the USA and not the U.K. I would have loved to have seen him in Rodeo. My sincere congratulations to him for all he has done for American ballet and to be still on the stage at the age of 95. A true inspiration!

#18 Richka

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 08:54 AM

To those who were fortunate enough to have seen Frederic Franklin dance in his youth I can only envy. I only saw him dance once when I was very young. It was during the last days of Ballet Russe on one of their long tours with a stop over in Boston. The ballet was Night Shadow, later called La Sonambula. All I can remember of it was Alexandra Danilova picking him up in her arms and bourreeing off upstage left with him cradled in her arms. Could that really be right? I've never seen that done in later productions so I wonder if my young eyes then could have left me with a distorted memory.
I met Franklin many years later as an adult with the Harkness Ballet. He dropped by and sat with a few of us in the canteen at Harkness House. He seemed an English gentleman. A few years later, as I was staging Pakita for Ballet West in Salt Lake City, Framklin had just finished staging Raymonda for them and had left. I wondered why Ballet West did not also have him stage Pakita while he was there, instead of flying me in to do it. But it could have been the director (Bruce Marks) wanted the Kirov version that I knew rather than the Ballet Russe version. Still, that would have been interesting to see.
Unlike others, fortunate enough to be in NY to see him with ABT, I only saw the ABT Swan Lake on TV with him as the tutor, in his advanced years of course. I wonder why England has never Knighted him but probably because he spent most all of his long life dancing in the USA and not the U.K. I would have loved to have seen him in Rodeo. My sincere congratulations to him for all he has done for American ballet and to be still on the stage at the age of 95. A true inspiration!


Another comment concerning Frederic Franklin. George Zoritch, who died last November at age 92 and was a neighbor of mine, often told me stories about the Ballet Russe dancers and about his own years with that company. He certainly liked to relate stories of the past. According to George, he saw Frederic Franklin dance at Goldern's Green in London, probably back in the late 1930s. He was comparitively unnknown then. George was impressed and introduced him to Serge Denham who straight away took him into The Ballet Russe. Franklin quickly became a star and contiues so to this day. First through his dancing in so many different roles with Ballet Russe ( must have been quite a leap in style from Raymonda to Rodeo) and later on for his incrediblel memory of ballets in order to stage them without notes. May he continue on doing so.

#19 leonid

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 12:21 PM

Another comment concerning Frederic Franklin. George Zoritch, who died last November at age 92 and was a neighbor of mine, often told me stories about the Ballet Russe dancers and about his own years with that company. He certainly liked to relate stories of the past. According to George, he saw Frederic Franklin dance at Goldern's Green in London, probably back in the late 1930s. He was comparitively unnknown then. George was impressed and introduced him to Serge Denham who straight away took him into The Ballet Russe. Franklin quickly became a star and contiues so to this day. First through his dancing in so many different roles with Ballet Russe ( must have been quite a leap in style from Raymonda to Rodeo) and later on for his incrediblel memory of ballets in order to stage them without notes. May he continue on doing so.


Prior to joining the Ballet Russe, Frederick Franklin had worked with Josephine Baker at the Casino de Paris, appeared with Wendy Toye and Anton Dolin in cabaret and other dance activities in variety, concert ballet, vaudeville, and theatre. From there he progressed to the Vic-Wells ballet and then to the Markova Dolin Ballet.

Thanks for your post Richka, I am with you on praising and celebrating Frederick Franklin.

#20 carbro

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 06:49 PM

All I can remember of it was Alexandra Danilova picking him up in her arms and bourreeing off upstage left with him cradled in her arms. Could that really be right? I've never seen that done in later productions so I wonder if my young eyes then could have left me with a distorted memory.

I have never not seen the Sleepwalker carry the poet off, but I have never seen her pick him up. To the best of my memory, she makes a great, circular swoon with her whole upper body before of the male entertainers place him in her arms, and she backs into the house, carrying him. I think have seen Sleepwalkers bouree back across the stage with the lifeless body, but lately I see more of them stand just before the doorway, so they can take one or two unsteady, flat-footed steps and Get The Job Done. Not a lot of magic in that. :D

I wonder why England has never Knighted him but probably because he spent most all of his long life dancing in the USA and not the U.K.

According to Franklin's Wikipedia page (badly in need of work), he is Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Knot a Knight, but still a Sir, albeit a less-sir.

#21 Richka

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 07:46 PM

All I can remember of it was Alexandra Danilova picking him up in her arms and bourreeing off upstage left with him cradled in her arms. Could that really be right? I've never seen that done in later productions so I wonder if my young eyes then could have left me with a distorted memory.

I have never not seen the Sleepwalker carry the poet off, but I have never seen her pick him up. To the best of my memory, she makes a great, circular swoon with her whole upper body before of the male entertainers place him in her arms, and she backs into the house, carrying him. I think have seen Sleepwalkers bouree back across the stage with the lifeless body, but lately I see more of them stand just before the doorway, so they can take one or two unsteady, flat-footed steps and Get The Job Done. Not a lot of magic in that. :D

I wonder why England has never Knighted him but probably because he spent most all of his long life dancing in the USA and not the U.K.


According to Franklin's Wikipedia page (badly in need of work), he is Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Knot a Knight, but still a Sir, albeit a less-sir.


It's good that he has at least a C.E. I've never heard anyone call him Sir Frederic, may be confused with Sr. Frederic Ashton. When I worked with Robert Helpmann I always called him Sir Robert but don't think he would have minded if I didn't. I also worked with DAME Alicia Markova but always called her Dame Alicia.
But I lived and worked 7 years in the U.K. Thanx for the Sonambula info.

#22 atm711

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 03:46 AM

I did see Franklin as Jean de Brienne in the Balanchine/Danilova Raymonda---I loved his comment about the armored costume he wore---he said it made him feel like Ingrid Bergman---and he surely did resemble her in Joan of Arc.... :D

#23 Richka

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 06:57 AM

I did see Franklin as Jean de Brienne in the Balanchine/Danilova Raymonda---I loved his comment about the armored costume he wore---he said it made him feel like Ingrid Bergman---and he surely did resemble her in Joan of Arc.... :wink:


Where did you find this quote? Did he write his autobiography or in an interview? Was there actually a recent TV documentary with him because some are mentioning it. I didn't know about it so I must have missed it. There should be one on Marc Platt as well, as I guess he is probably one of the last of the Ballet Russe legends.There is a Ballet Russe gathering at University of Oklahoma next month but I can find very little about it.

#24 carbro

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 11:34 AM

All I can remember of it was Alexandra Danilova picking him up in her arms and bourreeing off upstage left with him cradled in her arms. Could that really be right?

I've been thinking about this, because I so like your memory, but ...

The Sleepwalker never lets go of her candle, does she? I can't imagine that she -- even in the person of the great Danilova -- could lift a man from the ground while still holding onto the prop, even with a fake flame. How would she slide her hands beneath him? Not saying it didn't happen, just that I can't envision it.

#25 Farrell Fan

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 02:47 PM

From Danilova's memoir, "Choura," (1986): "...the sleepwalker came to be one of my signature roles. Even now, there are people who tell me they cannot forget my performance in it. And now there is a legend about me -- they say that at the moment when I took the dead Poet in my arms and carried him off, I went up on the toes and carried him off the stage on pointe. It isn't true, but I'm flattered that I gave that impression."

Though it's clearly impossible to carry the Poet while on pointe, Danilova's account suggests that the Sleepwalker walked some distance with him in her arms. The way the scene goes today, the Poet is placed in the Sleepwalker's arms, she staggers a bit, and they disappear.

#26 gold comb

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 09:33 AM

After the closing of the Ballet Russe Ballet Co. under the direction of Mr. Denham, many of it's dancers being out of work, were obliged to scatter their talents elsewhere. Mr. Franklin took over the direction of the National Ballet Co. in Washington DC. I danced 2 yrs with the company 1964/1965 and Mr. Frankilin's repertoire consisted of many of the ballets performed by the Ballet Russe's repertoire. He created/choreographed for the company "Ballet Imperial". Andrea Vodenhal in the principal role was gorgeous. He also brought many international stars to the company, as guest artists. We toured the US following the footsteps of the itinerary used by Ballet Russe when they used to tour. Mr. Franklin, Kokitch, Vilzak, Swoboda, Danilian are all part of American Ballet history !

#27 Richka

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 11:52 AM

All I can remember of it was Alexandra Danilova picking him up in her arms and bourreeing off upstage left with him cradled in her arms. Could that really be right?

I've been thinking about this, because I so like your memory, but ...

The Sleepwalker never lets go of her candle, does she? I can't imagine that she -- even in the person of the great Danilova -- could lift a man from the ground while still holding onto the prop, even with a fake flame. How would she slide her hands beneath him? Not saying it didn't happen, just that I can't envision it.


You are absolutely right, it WOULD be hard to imagine. I did say eariler that I was quite young. a bit of a teenage twit and also it was the very first ballet I had ever seen. I also had never seen anyone on pointe before so this was astonishing from the start. Just prior to that, Danilova and Franklin had done a pas de deux of some sort, probably the one from Nutcracker. That vision was still locked in my mind. So forget about the en pointe. But she definately was enfolding him in her arms, that part remains most vivid.
The main ballet I wanted to see that evening of long ago, was Scherherezade, which was first on the program. I must say I was totally disappointed. Perhaps because it wasn't as glamourous as the accounts I had been reading of the Diaghilev days, with Nijinsky. That was what I was expecting. However, after seeing the Bolshoi production many years later, my opinion changed drastically. I had thought Ballet Russe may have been winding up a long tour and the dancers may have been very tired, but many years later, becoming friends with Misha Katcharoff who was the ballet master of the company during all those years, he assured me the tour then was just STARTING OUT! So there you are.
At any rate, Night Shadow (a.k.a. La Sonnumbula) was enough to keep my interest in ballet going and remained so all my life.

#28 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 05:12 AM

I don't know if I've mentioned this before but there were several of us NYCB "groupies" (what other word can I use??) who also thought the Sleepwalker backed offstage on point carrying the Poet. So at Patty McBride's retirement party we asked her. She had the same reply as Danilova . The guys place him in her arms under the arch, and she takes two steps back.

#29 Amy Reusch

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 10:06 AM

Perhaps this should be a different thread, but while we're thinking of Danilova & Franklin's partnership... did they do Coppelia together?

#30 leonid

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 11:42 AM

Perhaps this should be a different thread, but while we're thinking of Danilova & Franklin's partnership... did they do Coppelia together?


Yes, they both danced in the London Sadlers Wells production of Coppelia in 1949 and I am not certain that they danced this ballet before that date but someone will certainly post the date of their first performance together.


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