THE GEORGE BALANCHINE FOUNDATION GIVES FIRST NINE TRANSCRIPTS OF 30 YEARS OF BALLET RUSSE DE MONTE CARLO — AN ORAL HISTORY WITH FREDERIC FRANKLIN TO THE JEROME ROBBINS DANCE DIVISION OF THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
New York City — The George Balanchine Foundation has delivered the first of many transcripts of the extensive oral history of Frederic Franklin's experiences as principal dancer and ballet master with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo to The Jerome Robbins Dance Division of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. When completed, all of the edited transcripts, along with the tapes of the original interviews, will be donated to the Dance Division.
The complete text of the oral history consists of 41 edited transcripts of interviews conducted with Mr. Franklin in 2000 and 2001. Interviewed by Monica Moseley, assistant curator of The Dance Division at The Performing Arts Library, and Mindy Aloff, dance writer, the focus of the conversations was taken from information contained in the large collection of letters, office records, photographs, scenic designs, and other documents relating to the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and donated to The Dance Division by Irina Pabst, a daughter of Sergei Denham, the company's founder and director. Nancy Reynolds, Director of Research for The Foundation is director of the oral history project.
Franklin discusses the entire repertory of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo during its 30-year history. He also speaks about many of its dancers (including Alexandra Danilova, his frequent and beloved partner), its artistic and technical staff, its patrons (notably Julius K. Fleischmann), and many other individuals who hold importance to him throughout his eight decades as a dancer in England, France and the United States. The oral history also describes the creation, coaching, and the maintenance of ballets; the orchestra, conductors, and the musicians; the scenic designers, costumers, and their efforts at maintenance; the conditions under which the artists of the company worked, including the rigors of touring; the business and management practices of the administration and promoters, and the critical and public reception of Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
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 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 Coppélia 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. Most recently, he performed in ABT's productions ofSwan Lake and Romeo and Juliet. For The George Balanchine Foundation's Video Archive Series, Mr. Franklin has staged portions of several Balanchine ballets. Among them are two pas de deux from the original Le Baiser de la Fée, two pas de deux from La Sonnambula (originally entitled Night Shadow), several solos from Raymonda, as well as directing the retrieval of the original Mozartiana.