Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Frederic Franklin | June 13, 1914 -- May 4, 2013 Ballet Dancer Who Was Early Inspiration for Choreographers George Balanchine and Agnes De Mille, Dies

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Frederic Franklin | June 13, 1914 -- May 4, 2013 Ballet Dancer Who Was Early Inspiration for Choreographers George Balanchine and Agnes De Mille, Dies

Article excerpt

Frederic Franklin, an exuberant, British-born ballet dancer who was an early inspiration for choreographers George Balanchine and Agnes de Mille and a frequent stage partner of the renowned ballerina Alexandra Danilova, died last Saturday at a New York City hospital. He was 98.

He had complications from pneumonia, said his partner, William Ausman.

Long after most dance careers end, Mr. Franklin continued to be an important force in the ballet community, serving as its living library and oral historian. Until the advent of film and video, dance was notoriously difficult to pass down because it lacks an effective, widely used system of notation.

Mr. Franklin's impeccable attention to detail, uncannily sharp memory and extensive experience with key choreographers and dancers made him uniquely suited to serve as a coach for a new generation of artists. He also continued to perform in small parts with the American Ballet Theatre through recent years. The group's artistic director, Kevin McKenzie, once called Mr. Franklin "a gold mine."

Starting in 1938, Mr. Franklin rose to acclaim as a member of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, a celebrated troupe that barnstormed the United States and Europe, and appeared in several Hollywood film shorts. His career was propelled by a dashing appearance, a strikingly well-proportioned physique for ballet and a photographic memory for dance steps.

He became the company's ballet master, or principal teacher, and also performed more than 45 principal roles with the group. In 1942, he played a poet in Balanchine's macabre "The Night Shadow" and a lively cowboy in de Mille's "Rodeo," a ballet whose hoedown- inspired movement and Aaron Copland musical score made for the first quintessentially American ballet.

Though Mr. Franklin danced with many of the leading ballerinas of his era, including Alicia Markova, Maria Tallchief and Alicia Alonso, it was his pairing with the Russian-born Danilova in the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo that was the most highly regarded. Both known as vivacious, committed performers, they teamed up for everything from classical story ballets such as "Giselle" to the pantomime-heavy "Coppelia. …

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