Frederic Franklin To Tape Video Series For The George Balanchine Foundation
NEW YORK CITY -Frederic Franklin, leading dancer and ballet master of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and Artistic Director Emeritus of Cincinnati Ballet, will teach and coach on camera three roles from George Balanchine's mystical ballet, La Sonnambula. The taping will take place on August 20, 2002, at the Cincinnati Ballet's studios at 1555 Central Parkway in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Mr. Franklin will work with principal dancer Kristi Capps on the part of the Sleepwalker. Senior Soloist Dmitri Trubchanov will be coached in the role of the Poet, and corps dancer Tricia A. Sundbeck will be coached in the role of the Coquette. Dance journalist Mindy Aloff will discuss the ballet and interview Mr. Franklin, Nancy Reynolds, dance scholar and The Foundation's director of research, who initiated the video series in 1994, will oversee the project.
Originally premiered by Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1946 as The Night Shadow, the ballet is described by Edwin Denby in Dance Writings as, "disconcerting, absurd, and disproportionate; but its effect when it is over is powerful and exact. It gives you a sense -as Poe does -of losing your bearings." Denby also comments that Balanchine uses "the dramatic device of mingling the ludicrous and the tragic. The particular effect of this is double: first it shocks one's stuffiness, then it delights one's sense of truth."
"At a masked ball with entertainments, the Poet pays suit to the Coquette, who is escorted by the Host. After the guests go in to supper an apparition in white enters, a beautiful Sleepwalker. Entranced, the Poet tries to wake her, but she eludes him. The jealous Coquette informs the Host, who, enraged, stabs the Poet. The Sleepwalker reappears and bears the Poet's body away." (from Choreography by George Balanchine : A Catalogue of Works)
Mr. Franklin recalls working with Balanchine to create the role of the Poet. "The Poet was one of Mr. Balanchine's choicest roles that he created for a man," Mr. Franklin comments. "Performing the ballet was a complete change from anything I had ever done before because the process of learning the ballet was shrouded in mystery. We learned the story as Mr. Balanchine created it. The ballet is a wonderful fantasy that was always a joy to do." As part of Cincinnati Ballet's 40th anniversary season, the company will honor Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo by having Mr. Franklin, in collaboration with Bart Cook, restore the original version of the ballet, which Mr. Franklin danced in 1946 with Alexandra Danilova as the Sleepwalker and Maria Tallchief as the Coquette.
The tape will become part of The George Balanchine Foundation Video Archives, housed at the Jerome Robbins Dance Collection of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, New York City. Copies are made available for on-site viewing to research libraries and accredited repositories worldwide.
Victoria Morgan, artistic director of Cincinnati Ballet comments on Frederic Franklin's unique role of coaching Balanchine's La Sonnambula with the aesthetic eye of Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. "His interpretations are genuine! After all -he was there!" states Ms. Morgan. "Only Freddie can recall the essence of what transpired in the studio and on stage during this important time in ballet history, and convey it to today's dancers with his own unique brand of theatrical detail, sensitivity and finesse. Like so many others, Cincinnati Ballet is indeed fortunate to benefit from the ongoing guidance of this living dance legend."
Cincinnati Ballet, founded in 1963, performs a 34-week season and boasts an international roster of 32 dancers from twelve countries. In addition, the Company operates the Otto M. Budig Academy of Cincinnati Ballet, which has a current enrollment of over 400 students.
Under the artistic direction of Victoria Morgan, Cincinnati Ballet launches its 40th anniversary celebration this October with a season that includes an opening night gala event honoring the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and Frederic Franklin, six season productions, a new emphasis on touring, special events, and education and outreach programs.
FREDERIC FRANKLIN was born in Liverpool and danced in England with the Markova-Dolin company and in music halls before joining the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1938. There he formed an important partnership with the beloved Alexandra Danilova and originated roles in ballets by Massine, Ashton, de Mille, and Balanchine, in addition to dancing leading parts in the entire repertoire. He was also rehearsal master for the Ballet Russe. From 1963 -1974, he was director of the National Ballet of Washington, D.C. In recent years he has been highly active as a teacher, coach and stager for companies around the world and has worked extensively with Dance Theatre of Harlem and Cincinnati Ballet. His staging of Coppelia for American Ballet Theatre premiered in New York at the Metropolitan Opera House in May 1997. In spring of 2000, Mr. Franklin returned to the stage as Madge in American Ballet Theatre's production of La Sylphide. For The George Balanchine Foundation, Mr. Franklin has staged two pas de deux from the original Le Baiser de la Fée and several solos from Raymonda, as well as directing the retrieval of the original Mozartiana. His present project for The Foundation is 30 Years of the Ballet Russe -An Oral History with Frederic Franklin, based on documents in the Jerome Robbins Dance Division.
KRISTI CAPPS, a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, was promoted to principal this year and has been with Cincinnati Ballet since 1996. Her ballet training includes the School of American Ballet, Harid Conservatory, and North Carolina School of the Arts, where she was chosen to study at the Hungarian State Ballet School for three summers. Prior to joining Cincinnati Ballet, Ms. Capps was a member of the Atlanta Ballet for three seasons. In Cincinnati, she delighted audiences in many lead roles including: Sugarplum Fairy and Snow Queen in The Nutcracker, Swanhilda in Coppélia, a principal in Balanchine's Who Cares? and the Stripper in Balanchine's Slaughter on Tenth Avenue. For the past five summers, Ms. Capps has been a member of the Chautauqua Ballet Company under the direction of Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux.
TRICIA A. SUNDBECK, originally from Stockton, California, studied dance at Sacramento Ballet, and the schools of San Francisco Ballet and Boston Ballet. Prior to joining Cincinnati Ballet, Ms. Sundbeck held the rank of principal dancer with Sacramento Ballet. Among her many roles, Ms. Sundbeck is most proud of her lead role as Juliet in Romeo &Juliet. Her other favorite performances have included dancing the roles of Sugarplum Fairy in The Nutcracker and Cinderella, and performing in Balanchine's Serenade and Rubies.
DMITRI TRUBCHANOV was born in Turkmenistan. At the age of eight, he moved to St. Petersburg, Russia, and was accepted into the Vaganova School of Ballet, now known as the Academy of Russian Ballet. As his career advanced, Trubchanov performed roles at the Kirov Ballet's Maryinsky Theater in St. Petersburg. Among the many ballets he performed while in Russia were La Bayadere, Le Corsaire and The Fountain of Bakhchisarai. Prior to joining Cincinnati Ballet, Trubchanov danced with Colorado Ballet, Denver Ballet, and Arlington Ballet in Texas.
MINDY ALOFF has written extensively on dance for The New Republic, The Nation, Dance Magazine, The New Yorker, Encyclopaedia Britannica, The Atlantic Monthly and other publications. She is currently editing transcripts of The George Balanchine Foundation's extensive oral history project with Frederic Franklin -30 Years of the Ballet Russe -for which she conducted some 60 hours of interviews, assisted by Monica Moseley of the Jerome Robbins Dance Division of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. In 2002-03, Ms. Aloff will be Assistant Professor of Practice in the dance department of Barnard College. She studied ballet with Pete Conlow, Barbara Fallis and Richard Thomas, Graham Smith, and Kathleen Crofton.
NANCY REYNOLDS, a former dancer with New York City Ballet, is the author of several books and many articles on dance. Since becoming director of research for The George Balanchine Foundation in 1994, she has collaborated on video projects with such legends in the field as Maria Tallchief, Dame Alicia Markova, Frederic Franklin, Alicia Alonso, and Suzanne Farrell, among others. Currently, with co-author Malcolm McCormick, she is completing a history of theatrical dance in the 20th century, to be published by Yale University Press.