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Ballet Master Frederic Franklin Dies At 98

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The arts world this weekend was mourning Frederic Franklin, a British-born dancer who helped popularize the modern ballet in the United States and performed until he was 95.

Mr. Franklin – known as "Freddie" in the world of dance – was 98 when he died at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center Saturday of complications from pneumonia, according to his lifelong partner, William Ausman.

Mr. Franklin last appeared with the American Ballet Theatre at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts three years ago.

The company's artistic director, Kevin McKenzie, says the amazingly energetic Franklin gave McKenzie his first job as a dancer. And McKenzie gave Mr. Franklin his last job -- as a Friar Laurence in "Romeo and Juliet" at Lincoln Center.

McKenzie said the Liverpool, England native retained an amazing memory of the greatest 20th century dance moves, and choreographers including George Balanchine relied on him to keep the tradition alive.

Mr. Franklin said his interest in the theatre dated back to a production of "Peter Pan" he saw at the age of 4, following which he decided to stand on his bed and try to fly, according to a New York Times obituary.

He moved to London at 17, and joined the Markova-Dolin Ballet in England in 1935, the newspaper reported. He went on to found the National Ballet of Washington in 1969 and direct it for all its five years of existence, and served as an adviser to the Dance Theater of Harlem, the Oakland Ballet, and other companies, the newspaper reported.

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