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Black British Ballet

Christian Holder

Ethnic heritage: British-Trinidadian

Year of birth: 1949

Training: Laura Wilson (Cecchetti, former Les Ballet Russes), Corona Academy Stage School, Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, New York High School of Performing Arts

Ballet career: Christian Holder attended private ballet lessons (in the Cecchetti method) in London at age of seven. When he turned 11, he enrolled in the Corona Academy Stage School where his ballet training continued, switching to the Russian Legat method.

A scholarship to the Martha Graham School of Contemporary dance in 1963 took him to New York the following year. There he also enrolled at the High School of Performing Arts where his ballet training continued. Robert Joffrey, who had been on the faculty of Performing Arts, saw Holder dance in 1966 and invited him to join his newly formed Joffrey Ballet. He remained with Joffrey Ballet for 13 years as Principal Dancer, working with choreographers Jerome Robbins, Agnes De Mille, Leonid Massine and Kurt Jooss, and Twyla Tharp.

Holder has choreographed for the Joffrey Ballet, Washington Ballet, Ballet Conçierto de Puerto Rico, and American Ballet Theatre.

Creative career: Holder’s first appearance as a dancer was at the Coronation of Elizabeth II, with his father’s company, Boscoe Holder and his Caribbean Dancers. He performed as a dancer and actor throughout his childhood in London. The Graham scholarship in 1963 was for British dancers to study the Graham technique in New York and return to London to be charter members of Robert Cohan’s London Contemporary Dance Theatre, but ultimately ballet won Christian’s loyalty.

Holder also designed the costumes for all the ballets he has choreographed, as well as stage outfits for the late Tina Turner from 1973-1984. For the last six years he has been singing in cabaret both in London and New York. His shows are all based on various facets of his vivid theatrical life.

We never know how high we are till we are called to rise; And then, if we are true to plan, our statues touch the skies.
- Emily Dickenson