Monday, October 21, 2002

Ballet pays tribute to Franklin

By Carol Norris
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Cincinnati Ballet's season opening was a cause for celebration - the 40th anniversary of the company and Frederic Franklin's 70th year in dance. Mr. Franklin is the company's beloved artistic director emeritus.

A large part of his performing career was spent with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, a glorious touring group of 125 performers and crew that brought ballet to American cities from 1938-1962. Excerpts from three Ballet Russe ballets were given stirring performances by Cincinnati Ballet `s young dancers.

Touchingly, each excerpt began with archival films interspersed with recent studio clips, bringing the sweetness of Mr. Franklin's dancing into focus along with his humor, as he recalled stories.

"Devil's Holiday" reflected the understatement of choreographer Frederick Ashton's British style. Tricia Sundbeck and Dimitri Trubchanov were smooth and elegant in a pas de deux; Andrey Kasatsky performed with melancholy grace in a solo.

Leonide Massine's two works - "Gaite Parisienne" and "The Seventh Symphony" couldn't have been more different. "Gaite" was a rambunctious duet for Stephanie Roig and Zack Grubbs while "Seventh Symphony" was a precursor for Balanchine's neoclassic style - fast footwork and quickly changing stage pictures belied its 1938 birthday. It was timeless. Amazing, too, is the fact that ballet mistress Johanna Wilt recreated the intricate work from old 16 mm film, studying it frame by frame.

George Balanchine's one-act "La Sonnambula (The Sleepwalker)" was another ballet that found its way into the Ballet Russe repertory. One can easily imagine Mr. Franklin as the wistful poet (danced beautifully opening night by Mr. Trubchanov).

It was well-staged by New York City Ballet's Bart Cook. With Mr. Franklin's recollection and input it took on more of a dramatic tone than is usually seen.

For the new, there was choreographer Julia Adam's premiere "Reverence." No doubt a nod to the ballet class, reverence refers to deep bows with which dancers end each class. While the ending was moving, the lack of dynamics earlier made the watching less than compelling.

Val Caniparoli, a master of pas de deux work, created "No Other" for the vibrant Lorna Feijoo partnered by Mr. Trubchanov.

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