Carmen de Lavallade and Geoffrey Holder. Photo by Werner J. Kuhn, Courtesy DM Archives

Carmen de Lavallade and Geoffrey Holder's Dance-Filled Love Affair

In June 1955, just months after meeting during the Broadway run of House of Flowers, Carmen de Lavallade and Geoffrey Holder tied the knot. It was the start of one of dance's longest, most celebrated on- and offstage partnerships, which lasted until Holder passed away in 2014. "She is the most beautiful woman in my world," he said in the August 1999 issue of Dance Magazine. "She is also a magnificent woman to live with, an exceptional dancer, and an incredible mother. God gave me a muse, and her name is Carmen."


Holder was a celebrated actor, dancer, choreographer, visual artist and director who took home two Tony Awards (direction and costume design) for The Wiz. De Lavallade performed with Lester Horton, Alvin Ailey, the Metropolitan Opera and American Ballet Theatre, in addition to her work on Broadway, in film and as a choreographer, and is the recipient of a Dance Magazine Award (1967) and a Kennedy Center Honor (2017).

"God bless Geoffrey Holder," she remarked in the same story. "He let me do what I wanted to do, and we are not in competition with each other." Separately and together, the duo left an indelible mark on the worlds of dance and theater—and de Lavallade is still at it, continuing to perform at age 88.

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February 2021