Geoffrey Holder

Geoffrey Holder was a dancer, choreographer, actor, composer, designer, and painter whose Pillow roots ran deep and remained strong for more than 60 years, even as he became a widely-recognized cultural figure known as the creator of Broadway's The Wiz, a film actor (notably Doctor Dolittle and Annie), and a pitchman for 7Up (“the Un-cola”). From the time of his Pillow debut in 1954—the same year he first brought his company to the U.S. from his native Trinidad—Holder was a frequent presence here. He performed on five Pillow seasons between 1954 and 1963, and his work has continued to be presented here by others including Judith Jamison, Ballet Hispanico, and Dance Theatre of Harlem. A primary interpreter of Holder's work was his wife Carmen de Lavallade, who brought the 2014 Gala to a rousing close with an excerpt from The Creation. He engaged in a memorable PillowTalk with Jennifer Dunning in 2002, and presided over a special screening of the documentary Carmen and Geoffrey in 2007. The film was shown once again during the 2014 season with commentary by the subjects' son, Léo Holder. After his death in Manhattan on October 5, 2014, at age 84, the New York Times proclaimed, “Few cultural figures of the last half of the 20th century were as multifaceted as Mr. Holder, and few had a public presence as unmistakable as his, with his gleaming pate atop a 6-foot-6 frame, full-bodied laugh and bassoon of a voice laced with the lilting cadences of the Caribbean.”
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