And I thought he might live forever. And wished he could have.
Frederic Franklin, the captivating British dancer and ballet master who forged a memorable partnership with the Russian ballerina Alexandra Danilova and performed well into his 90s, died this weekend in Manhattan at the age of 98. The death was announced by his partner of 48 years, William Haywood Ausman.
No, I'm not old enough to have seen Franklin, who danced in everything from "Swan Lake" to "Rodeo" and had a career on the stage as well, perform live. But anyone who saw the 2005 documentary "Ballet Russes," which featured interviews with and footage of the dancers of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo (Franklin among them) couldn't help but be seduced by his youthful energy, wonderful sense of humor and admirable talents.
That first generation of dancers that prompted America's love of the art of ballet are gradually leaving us. Franklin's death comes on the heels of the passing of Maria Tallchief, America's first Native American ballerina.
I'm not one who believes ballet is dead -- in fact, I've just been thrilled by the Royal's production of Christopher Wheeldon's "Alice in Wonderland," which I saw as part of the Ballet in Cinema series this weekend. But it's hard not to mourn the loss of such wonderful creative talents and bright spirits of the ballet world.