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Geoffrey Holder: Choreographer, Dancer, Director....

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Saturday, 17 December 2011 09:40

 

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                     Geoffrey Holder & Carmen DeLavallade

Geoffrey Holder, a man of many accomplishments, was born to a middle class family in Port-  of-Spain, Trinidad and had three brothers. Holder was born on August 20th, 1930. The six  foot, six inch Geoffrey Holder was more known for his heavily deep bass accent and his famous laugh which was seen in the 1970's 7up soft drink commercials. Holder could also be seen in the 1967 movie Dr. Dolittle as William Shakespeare, "Willy" also in Annie in 1982 in the role of Punjab. Growing up, Geoffrey attended Queens Royal College, a secondary school in Port-of-Spain where he and received lessons in painting and dancing from his older brother Boscoe. Geoffrey was a Trinidadian actor, a choreographer, dancer, director, painter, costume designer, singer and also a voice-over artist. Holder debuted with his brothers dance troupe, "The Holder Dance Company" when he was seven years old. Eventually he would take over of the company when his older brother Boscoe moved to London, England. In 1952, Agnes de Mille saw the group perform on the island of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and invited Holder to audition for impresario Sol Hurok in New York City.
Geoffrey is also an ardent art collector and prolific painter. Holder sold 20 of his paintings to pay for passage for the company to New York City in 1954 Later on to support himself, Holder taught classes at the Katherine Dunham School. Many great dancers/performancer derived form the Katherine Dunham School such as HotStepz own Otis Sallid, Gregory Hines and so forth. Producer Arnold Saint Subber was so impressed with Holders 6.6 height and impressive formal attire at a recital that he arrange for Holder to play Samedi Haitian conjurer, in Harold Arlen's 1954 Broadway musical "House of Flowers". This is where he meet dancer Carmen DeLavallade. Holder was a principal dancer with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet in New York from 1955 - 1956 and with his troupe, Geoffrey Holder and Company through 1960. Holder and Carmen married in 1955 when both were in the cast of Truman Capote's House of Flowers. Currently they live in New York City and have one son, Leo Anthony Lamont.

 

 

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Other Accomplishments:

 

In 1957 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in painting.

In 1957 Holder acted in an all-black production of "Waiting for Godot" .
In 1961 he had his first film role in the movie ALL NIGHT LONG, a modern retelling of "Othello".
Appearances in "EVERYTHING YOU'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX" (1972),
LIVE AND LET DIE (1973),
Punjab in ANNIE (1982).

Directed "The Wiz," (1975) an all-black retelling of THE WIZARD OF OZ, earned him Tony Awards for best director and best costume design.
In 1978 he directed and choreographed the lavish Broadway musical "Timbuktu!".
He has choreographed pieces for many companies including the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, for which he choreographed "Prodigal Prince" (1967), a dance based on the life of a Haitian primitive painter.
Dance Theater of Harlem (1957) "Bele," which combines African and European elements.

Holder cowrote (with Tom Harshman) and illustrated the book BLACK GODS, GREEN ISLANDS (1959), a collection of Caribbean folklore; and GEOFFREY HOLDER'S

CARIBBEAN COOKBOOK was published in 1973.
In 1992 Holder appeared in the film BOOMERANG with Eddie Murphy.

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 17 December 2011 09:53 )
 
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