Christian Holder

London Contemporary Dance Theatre
Joffrey Ballet: Principal (1966-1979)
San Francisco Opera (1979-1981)

Christian Holder in Gerald Arpino’s Touch Me. Photo by Herbert Migdoll.

Christian Holder was born Arthur Christian Holder on June 18, 1949 in Trinidad into a family of many notable creatives. Holder’s mother, Sheila Clarke Holder, was a professional dancer from London, and his father, Boscoe Holder, was a renaissance man like his son—a well-known painter, dancer, choreographer, musician, designer. Uncle Geoffrey Holder was a legendary actor, dancer, artist and more, and grandmother Kathleen Davis was an actor and “radio personality.”

As an infant, Holder and his family moved from Trinidad to London, where the young performer danced as a junior member of Boscoe Holder and his Caribbean Dancers. He appeared on television and at Queen Elizabeth’s 1953 coronation (at four years old). As a child actor, he was featured in an unfinished television production of Moby Dick, directed by Orson Welles. While performing in a piece for the Sunday Ballet Club, Anthony Armstrong-Jones (Lord Snowdon, former husband of Princess Margaret) photographed Holder on stage.

Holder began private ballet classes when he was seven years old and started training at Corona Academy Stage School at age 11. He was a charter member of the London Contemporary Dance Theatre before he moved to New York City when he was 15 years old, becoming a scholarship student at the Martha Graham School and attending High School of Performing Arts. Here, Holder became friends with Gary Chryst (also later a member of the Joffrey Ballet) and was offered an apprenticeship by Robert Joffrey.

Holder joined the Joffrey Ballet in 1966 and danced with the company for 13 years, later becoming a principal dancer. He worked with numerous notable choreographers, among them being Agnes de Mille, Alvin Ailey, Leonide Massine, Jerome Robbins, and Kurt Jooss.

After leaving the Joffrey in 1979, Holder became a solo guest artist with the San Francisco Opera for three years. He choreographed their productions of The Merry Widow and Aida. He also created Weren’t We Fools? for American Ballet Theatre, Transcendence for Atlanta Ballet, and for the Joffrey.

Holder returned to the Joffrey in 2006 to perform in Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella as one of the two ugly stepsisters with Gary Chryst; Joffrey reportedly wished the two dancers to play these roles before his death in 1988.

Holder has taught ballet for the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Steps on Broadway, Kaatsbaan International Dance Center, Peridance, and Cedar Lake Dance.

Similar to his father and uncle Geoffrey, Christian Holder is highly regarded for his talents outside of dance as well.

As a costume designer, Holder created for Tina Turner (from 1973-1984), Ann Reinking, and Margo Sappington’s Toulouse-Lautrec (2000) for Ballet du Capitole (in Toulouse, France) as well as costumes for ballets he choreographed.

Holder wrote and directed a play entitled Ida Rubinstein: The Final Act and wrote the book and lyrics for Verse of Fortune with Noa Ain, inspired by the life of Baudelaire.

His television and movie credits range from productions early in his career to archival footage of him in Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance (2012); on television, he was featured in The Avengers (1961), A Schoolboy’s Hero (1961), Ghost Squad (1963-1964), Story Parade (1964), and Great Performances: Dance in America (for PBS, as the Blackamoor in Petrouchka). He also appeared in the movies Hair (1979) and Magic Sticks (1987).

Holder made his singing debut in a one-man cabaret, At Home and Abroad, in April 2015.

Christian and Boscoe Holder’s paintings (along with those of Oliver Messel) were exhibited in London in 2010. The Victoria & Albert Museum in London hosted an event entitled Christian Holder: A Life in Performance, New York and London in August 2016. Most recently, his paintings and his father’s were shown together once again at Campbell’s of London gallery in 2020.

Holder has been awarded the first Drexel University Award for International Excellence (along with Boscoe and Geoffrey Holder) in 1991 and an award for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts from Philadanco in 1995.

Current website:

Christian Holder


Biography, Christian Holder
Christian Holder, Wikipedia
Our New Year’s Baby, Christian Holder, with tail, Arts Meme
Boscoe Holder, Wikipedia
Christian Holder, IMDB
Recalling the glamor, activist days of the Joffrey, Chicago Tribune

See also:

BWW Interview: Christian Holder Gets Ready to Bring At Home and Abroad to Laurie Beechman Theatre, Broadway World

Video links:

Christian Holder #PerformersSingForFans- just across the pond, but has graced many a New York stage
Joffrey Mavericks of American Dance: Exclusive Interviews From The Film Premiere in NYC
Steps Interview Part 1
Christian Holder 6 September 2017

Social media:

Twitter @holder49ch

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