CHRISTIAN HOLDER

21 June 1977 — Tina Turner has just read an interview with Christian Holder in the Los Angeles Times. The article spotlights Holder's career as a principal dancer with the Joffrey Ballet as well as a choreographer and costume designer. Over the past four years, he's created several stage ensembles for the singer, inspired by her routines with the Ikettes. Turner will soon derive inspiration from watching Holder perform an eleven-minute solo, "Touch Me", during the Joffrey's residency at the Greek Theatre. His magnetizing movement turns swaths of fabric into a special kind of superpower. 

 

"'Touch Me' was the first ballet that Tina saw me do," Holder recalls 45 years later. "She came to the dressing room door on her knees because I had done the little bourrées on my knees. This was someone she knew and she was just really excited. She was seeing ballet dancers, she was seeing elegance, and then all of a sudden, in the middle, there was this Black dancer who was doing this whole thing with fabric. She was thrilled because Bob Mackie had just made her these show girl wings and I was using the fabric in the same way. Tina was so inspired that she cancelled the rest of her weekend and came to the Joffrey's closing night when we did 'Trinity'."

 

"Trinity" and "Touch Me" were among the signature pieces that Holder danced during his tenure with the Joffrey from 1966-1979, a period he revisits in his cabaret show, Suite 60s-Sweet 70s. Trading bourrées for serenades, he reflects on his own personal and creative progression from those years through a set of pop, soul, and stage standards that underscore how Holder not only witnessed history, he helped make it, too. The Joffrey Ballet became the first classical dance company to create a rock ballet ("Astarte"), the first to incorporate multi-media in performance, and the first to appear on the cover of TIME Magazine, all within Holder's first two years as a Joffrey dancer. 

[Click to read more of Christian Holder's interview with Christian John Wikane for PopMatters.]

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