January 1, 1999
Frederic Franklin: A Biography of the Ballet Star
By Leslie Norton
Associate Professor of Dance Leslie Norton has authored a second book,
Frederic Franklin: A Biography of the Ballet Star (McFarland & Co., Inc.).
Frederic Franklin was one of the most famous ballets stars of the twentieth
century. His performing career reached its peak during his years as a
principal with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo (1938-57). During that time,
such choreographic legends as George Balanchine, Bronislava Nijinska, Agnes
de Mille and Sir Frederick Ashton created roles especially for Franklin in
their new ballets. In the 60's and 70's, he was Artistic Director of the
National Ballet, the first major ballet company in the nation's capital. He
then began a new career phase, staging historically significant ballets
from the Petipa, Diaghilev, Americana, and Balanchine eras. Franklin has
staged works for American Ballet Theatre, London's Royal Ballet, Milan's La
Scala and numerous major regional ballet companies across the United
States. He has been pivotal in preserving the masterpieces of nineteenth
and twentieth-century ballets in their original, authentic form, thus
handing down the highly-perishable legacy of the masters to younger
generations whom Franklin has inspired with his teaching, coaching and
Now, at the age of ninety-three, Franklin still fills his calandar with
performances and stagings. He continues to dance principal character roles
with American Ballet Theatre and very recently staged a revival of Sir
Frederick Ashton's Devil's Holiday for the Royal Ballet's Ashton centenary.
On that same trip to London, in a royal ceremony, Franklin was proclaimed a
Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II herself.
In writing this book, Professor Norton conducted over thiry hours
of private interviews with Franklin and another thirty in interviews with
Franklin's most noteworthy colleagues. Additional information was obtained
through the Jerome Robbins Dance Division, New York Public Library for the
Performing Arts, the NYPL
Newspaper Archives, The Balanchine Foundation in New York City, The George
Verdak Dance History Archives in Indianapolis, and Mr. Franklin's personal
collection. On July 14 of this year, Franklin and Norton appeared at the
renowned Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival on the Festival's "Pillow Talk"
series to discuss the new book. More ...