Dancer, choreographer, director and actor Geoffrey Holder died this weekend and I am so sad to have waited so long to do a post on this amazing talented spectacular human being. I warmly recognized the amazing animated charismatic face of Geoffrey Holder from from movies like Annie, Live and Let Die and Boomerang, and even as the spokesman for 7Up, but it wasn’t until I saw the documentary Carmen & Geoffrey that I fell in love a little with both Geoffrey Holder and his extraordinarily talented wife Carmen.
Geoffrey Holder is like me, a Leo, born in 1930, Trinidad. One of four children, he was taught painting and dancing by his big brother Boscoe Holder who ran the Holder Dance Company. Geoffrey joined the troupe at seven years old and by the late 1940s after his brother moved to London, he had become the director of the Holder Dance Company. Agnes de Mille, choreographer/daughter of Cecil B. DeMille saw the Holder Dance Co. perform in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands and is credited for Holder’s “discovery.” Geoffrey moved to the US in 1954.
On December 30, 1954, Holder made his Broadway debut (so did Diahann Carroll) in the Caribbean-themed musical “House of Flowers”. The cast included Alvin Ailey and Carmen DeLavallade. This show was beautifully received. Holder and Ailey both fell madly in love with DeLavallade. In the end, Carmen fell for Geoffrey and they married. He would next become a dancer in the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, father a son, hold several roles on Broadway, write two books around Caribbean culture and direct The Wiz for which he won a Tony in 1975.
His life is amazing and you must see the film, Carmen & Geoffrey, they are two stunning artists. Besides being wickedly good humored, having had amazing careers and being truly gifted, their love story is epic. Trust me you will be inspired! To celebrating a life well lived!
There is a wonderful series of videos called The Visionary Project in which both Geoffrey and Carmen are featured. Absolutely worth watching if you’d like to know more about Geoffrey Holder.