Alexandra Danilova and Frederic Franklin in the Sadler's Wells ballet production of Coppelia.Alexandra Danilova and Frederic Franklin in the Sadler's Wells ballet production of Coppelia.

Frederic Franklin, the British-born dancer who helped popularise modern ballet in the US and performed until his mid-90s, has died.

He was 98, and succumbed to complications from pneumonia on Saturday at a Manhattan hospital, according to his lifelong partner, William Ausman.

Franklin last appeared with the American Ballet Theatre at the Lincoln Centre for the Performing Arts three years ago – as a friar in Romeo And Juliet.

“He gave me my first job, and I gave him his last,” said the company’s artistic director, Kevin McKenzie. “He was a seminal figure in the ballet world.”

He said the amazingly energetic native of Liverpool remembered the greatest 20th century dance moves, starting with Serge Diaghilev and the Ballets Russe de Monte Carlo. He toured the US with them in the 1950s.

“His death puts a period to an era in the dance world,” McKenzie said. “He epitomised both the old ballets and the modern ones, and he helped establish the importance of classical ballet in the US.”

Choreographers including George Balanchine relied on Franklin to keep their tradition alive, Ausman said.

Franklin also danced with London’s Sadler’s Wells Theatre and with Josephine Baker in Paris. 

Sign up to our free newsletters

Get the best updates straight to your inbox:
Please select at least one mailing list.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By subscribing, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing.