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Fred Franklin in Cincinnati


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#1 Jack Reed

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Posted 06 November 2002 - 05:02 PM

Early Sunday afternoon, the 20th of October, we heard an interview of Fred Franklin by Jack Anderson in the auditorium of the Cincinnati Art Museum a propos the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. After some other topics, the subject of restaging "Devil's Holiday" came up. According to my notes, Franklin said, There's eight or nine minutes of film of "Devil's Holiday", not enough for a revival. Massine recorded everything; I only remember what I'm involved in, I never saw things from the front. I am going to England in the Spring for a restaging of it. Georgina Parkinson called me about it. I identified footage the New York Public Library had I didn't know existed.

The Slavenska-Franklin Ballet existed for a few years when Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo disbanded for the same time. I did Stanley Kowalski in Valerie Bettis's "Streetcar Named Desire". Tudor was going to do it, but then canceled. When I asked Valerie, she said, "Oh heavens no! When do we start rehearsals?" We had asked Danilova, she came and said nothing, just smiling. Mia said the parts couldn't be done on pointe; Valerie put the shoes on and showed her. We opened in [Montreal], then did it in Chicago, where Valerie said it was awful, we've got to go to New York and do it over. We did, and even John Martin said it was nice. [Marlon] Brando said, If I could have done with my voice what you did with your body, I'd have been better. [Tennessee] Williams said, "The road to success is paved with [wild? crazy?] ideas."

[From the audience]: Why now? Franklin: ...money... It was a revelation to some of the Cincinnati Ballet dancers that there were four movements [of "Seventh Symphony"] to do. "Gaite Parisienne" can be cut down.

[Another audience member]: Was Friday night magical for you? [Opening that night, the CB's BRdMC program concluded with clips of Franklin rehearsing CB and reminiscing and then taking applause on stage.] It took me back. I hoped it would all go. It did. Then it was just me [at the end] and I was alone on the stage and anxious. But then everyone came out of the wings. I was surrounded, and I felt better.

At the end, Anderson had a few requests for the audience. Would the BRdMC dancers present please stand? A score or so people stood, and we clapped. Would any of you who have been moved or touched by Fred Franklin's working or speaking here in Cincinnati please stand? The rest of us got to our feet and gave him his applause. This "spry" 88-year-old seems to have been born to make people happy. By that standard, he's still in his prime.

(Anyone whose appetite has ben whetted by this little excerpt might like to know that two taping crews worked in the auditorium, one from the Cincinnati Art Museum, one from Cincinnati Ballet (neither knowing the other would be there), so that, sooner or later, you may be able to see and hear the whole interview yourself somewhere. And if that weren't enough, 60 hours of Franklin in conversation with Mindy Aloff were taped in August, and three or four people are at work transcribing it, so that eventually that too will be available as part of The George Balanchine Foundation's oral history project. (I can hardly believe the number I just wrote. 60 hours!))

#2 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 06 November 2002 - 05:39 PM

Wow! Jack that is awesome, and I would really, really love to see both the Cincinatti tapes and the Aloff interview. Freddy was always a great joy to work with, and I would guess that at 80 he is still such a joy! :) I was fortunate enough to work with him when he taught company classes for ABT and I, along with everyone else, totally adored him.


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