Geoffrey Holder


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Photo: Hirosuke Doi

Profile: A hugely talented man, Mr Holder is an actor, choreographer, designer, director, musician, author, photographer and painter. Born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, Geoffrey Holder was one of four children in a middle-class family. He attended Queens Royal College, a secondary school in Port-of-Spain, and received lessons in painting and dancing from his older brother Boscoe.

Film: Upon coming to New York from his native Trinidad, Mr Holder first performed as a principal dancer in House of Flowers and, as an actor, starred on Broadway in Waiting for Godot. His many films include Live and Let Die, for which he choreographed and performed the role of Baron Samdei; Dr. DooLittle; Woody Allen’s Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Sex; The Swashbuckler; and Punjab in Annie. He was Premier Danseur at the Metropolitan Opera House in Aida and La Perichole.

Television: Mr Holder has worked in all aspects of television. He was guest theatre critic for NBC-TV, and performed in such productions as Androcles and the Lion, with Noel Coward; A Man Without A Country; Alladin and the Bottle Imp; and the PBS production of Alice in Wonderland, as the Cheshire Cat, with Kate and Richard Burton.

Choreographer/ Designer/Musician: He choreographed and designed the sets and costumes for Jeux Des Dieux, commissioned by the Harkness Ballet. For the Dance Theatre of Harlem, he choreographed, designed and wrote the music for Dougla; Banda; and Bele; and created the costumes and sets for Firebird, all now permanent parts of DTH’s repertoire.

Painter: As a painter, Geoffrey Holder won the Guggenheim Fellowship Award. An impressionist, Mr Holder’s drawings and paintings have been acquired by the Corcoran Gallery; the Barbados Museum; the Museum of Art in Durham, North Carolina; the Museum of the City of New York; and the Leonard Hana Collection, as well as various private collectors. A muralist as well, he painted a thirty-foot mural in the Trinidad Hilton.

Author: Mr Holder is also the author of Black Gods, Green Islands; Geoffrey Holder’s Caribbean Cookbook; and the forthcoming The Art of Geoffrey Holder, to be published by Howard University Press.

Photographer: He has been a professional photographer since the age of nineteen, and a major book of his photography, Adam, will be published by Viking Press.

Awards: He has received the highest honour from his native Trinidad, the Hummingbird Medal, for his achievements in the arts. During the Centennial Celebration of the Statue of Liberty in New York City, he was awarded the Medal of Liberty. Mr Holder received his Honorary Doctorate of fine Arts in 1986 from North Carolina Central University. He has also received two Tony Awards as Best Director and for Best Costume Design for his work in the Broadway musical The Wiz. Since that time he has directed, choreographed and costumed Timbuktu on the Broadway stage, starring Eartha Kitt.