The true measure of an individual is the life they have lead. Not necessarily the life they have chosen for themselves, because often times fate intervenes and changes the paths we set ourselves upon, but it’s what we do with the opportunities put before us that decide who and what we become. It’s how we live and the lives we interact with and the way we walk this earth that dictates how we impact not only our own destinies but the lives of everyone around us. It’s the stories we tell once enough time has passed and the ones that are told about us that truly measure a life. By those standards Christian Holder has lead quite a life worth telling and he has more than earned his time upon the stage.
Seven decades of a life like Holder’s is fascinating indeed. Dancer, choreographer, actor, teacher, costume designer, writer, and painter. This true renaissance man was born in Trinidad to a family with natural talent and artistic drive in their blood. They all found themselves at home in England when Christian was just an infant. As a child he built a miniature theatre and found himself entranced with all its possibilities. His father encouraged him to always believe in the power of his own imagination. He would perform at family parties in his own little white jacket and black cape with red lining.
Young Christian lived a life of West End Shows and Cabarets. As time passed he would be impacted by performers like Ethel Merman and Judy Garland. The London debut of West Side Story along with Chita Rivera changed his life. He came to New York where Martha Graham mentored him. He went on to the Martha Graham School eventually meeting Robert Joffrey and becoming a principal dancer at The Joffrey Ballet. All of that is just the proverbial tip of one very large iceberg.
Christian Holder is now an elegant song and dance man with a weathered but silky voice reminiscent of the great Bobbie Short. He’s an earnest storyteller capable of weaving magic into his tales and his audiences adores him. His one man show At Home & Abroad: My Life in Songs and Stories is the autobiographical journey of his life in both song and dance and he tells that story with a childlike glint in his eye that belies his true age. In truth Christian Holder may just be ageless and we are the lucky benefactors of his good graces.
At six feet four inches Holder has a commanding presence. His genuine smile draws you in. His convivial nature keeps you in the palm of his hand. You want to know more about him and the songs he has selected makes that possible. They are all personal to his travels. They all impacted him in some profound way. By playing rich jazzy and at times soulful arrangements the musical trio accompanying him, led by music director Reed Robins on piano, Steve Doyle on upright bass, and Joe Choroszewski on drums make for an excellent complement to Holder’s relaxed style. From the playfully obvious lines of Sting’s “Englishmen in New York” to the bittersweet lyrics of Noel Coward’s “If Love Were All” Christian Holder paints a picture of his life that is rich in color and tone and his life makes for a masterpiece that is well worth viewing.
Edward Medina is an active member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA), where he serves on both the Membership and Diversity & Inclusion Committees. He is also a voting member of The Drama Desk. Edward welcomes comments at EdwardMedinaAuthor@gmail.com.