Arthur Mitchell/Dance Theatre of Harlem and Frederic Franklin
The National Washington Ballet and Frederic Franklin
After his career in Europe and touring, Frederic Franklin returned to the United States and was named co-director of the Washington Ballet in 1958 by its founder, Mary Day. Franklin choreographed two original works—Etalage to music by Franz Liszt and Homage au Ballet with music by Charles-François Gounod—for the Washington Ballet. In 1960, Franklin said in an interview, “We are working towards a resident company in the nation’s capital.” He resigned in April 1961 after a dispute over the future direction of the company. The National Ballet of Washington, DC was co-founded in 1962 by Jean Riddell, chairman of the board of the Washington Ballet Guild and a committed patron of the arts, and Frederic Franklin, artistic director, with financial assistance from the Ford Foundation. Mrs. Riddell was named president of its sustaining organization, the National Ballet Society. Franklin and Riddell also created the National Ballet School with an enrollment of 250 girls and boys with class size limited to 15 students.
Franklin said: “The school and the company are for America and for all the good dancers that we can find and develop. Our intention is to establish a national company in the nation’s capital based on artistic policies similar to those of the New York City Ballet and the original policy of the Sadler’s Wells Ballet.” Riddell said, “The National Ballet is the only logical name for this company—it’s designed not only for Washington, but also for growth.”
After three months of rehearsal, the company debuted on January 3, 1962 at the George Washington University Lisner Auditorium, with New York City Ballet co-founder and choreographer George Balanchine in the audience. The company received 13 curtain calls. (Text above via Wikipedia).
Raven Wilkinson and Frederic Franklin
Frederic Franklin was a member of Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo from 1938 to 1952. Franklin gave the audition for Wilkinson’s Ballet Russe class and had previously worked as a faculty member at the Swoboda School. Franklin said that he pushed the company leadership of Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo to accept Wilkinson into the company.
More about Frederic Franklin
Frederic Franklin, Wikipedia
National Ballet of Washington DC, Wikipedia
Frederic Franklin, Andros on Ballet
Frederic Franklin, Dance Magazine
Frederic Franklin obituary, The Guardian
Photo of Franklin, Mitchell, and Norton
DTH On Demand: Creole Giselle, Dance Theatre of Harlem
Dance Theatre of Harlem – Creole Giselle – streamed archive recording of 1987 performance, Dance Tabs
Robert Tanitch reviews Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Creole Giselle on line, Mature Times