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On August 3, 2016

Francesca Corkle

From her first studies with her mother in Seattle, Washington, Francesca Corkle knew a career in ballet was all she ever wanted. After finishing High School at the age of 15 Francesca Corkle left Seattle to head for New York City and the Joffrey Ballet School. After five months as an apprentice, she became a member of the company and developed into one of the world’s finest dancers.

Ms. Corkle was a member of the Joffrey Ballet Company from 1969 – 1978 and performed in ballets by Ashton, Balanchine, Bournonville, Cranko, DeMille, Feld, Fokine, Harkarvy, Joos, Massine, Robbins, Tharp and Tudor. During her ten year tenure with the Joffrey Ballet, she received enthusiastic acclaim throughout her career. Known for her brilliant technique, speed and wit, Ms. Corkle won high acclaim for her roles in such classics by Joffrey Ballet co-founder Gerald Arpino as “Confetti,” “Kettentantz” and “L’Air d’Esprit” and in John Cranko’s “Pineapple Poll.” In 1974, her first major dramatic role was choreographed for her by Robert Joffrey in “Remembrances” to the music of Richard Wagner. After the premiere, the NY Post described her as “feather-light and soft as she makes the most difficult lifts effortless.” In 1978 Chicago critic Ann Barzel wrote that “She is a perfectionist in technique and superbly intelligent in matters of style.”

Additional praise for Ms. Corkle’s work included Richard Christiansen’s of the Chicago Daily News who called her “the Joffrey’s foremost ballerina in the classical vein.” Clive Barnes called her “a dancer of great mystery and intensity.” Esquire Magazine named Ms. Corkle as one of the 45 Best Dancers in the World and said that she was “the secret ingredient” in the Joffrey Productions.

In 1979, Ms. Corkle became a principal ballerina with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, where she performed the full-length classics: “Giselle,” “The Sleeping Beauty,” “Swan Lake,” “Coppelia,” “The Nutcracker” and “La Sylphide” as well as lead roles in “Le Combat,” “Etudes,” “The Merry Widow,” and “Les Sylphides.”

In 1982 Ms. Corkle left Pittsburgh to become a guest dancer and teacher during which time she appeared with her partner, former Royal Ballet Principal Keith Martin. Ms. Corkle created the role of Juliet in his production of “Romeo and Juliet” which she performed with the Santa Barbara Ballet and the Phoenix Ballet Company. Ms. Corkle teaches exclusively at the Joffrey Ballet School in the Trainee Program. She has been a faculty member for over twenty years.

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