Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s “The Prodigal Prince” choreographed and produced by Geoffrey Holder will run from Dec. 1 – Jan. 2 at New York City Center (131 W. 55th Street, N.Y.
The production tells the story of renowned Haitian, Hector Hippolite, a painter and priest. For many years Hippolite painted in obscurity; then he was visited in a vision by the Boudon Goddess Erzulie and Saint John the Baptist. This vision, combined with a real or imagined trip to Africa, inspired Hippolite to paint the world of the Voudon “laos” the gods of Africa.
In his vision, the gods also prophesied that a man from overseas would buy Hippolite’s paintings and change his future. This prophesy came true in the form of Frenchman, Andre Breton, who purchased Hippolite’s works and brought him fame and recognition for his artistic genius.
Choreographer Geoffrey Holder, a native of Trinidad, describes his mission as being able “to combine and integrate all the things that the human being can be – thinking person, cultured historian, creative artist, the repository of the spirit of a million eons and the cumulative total of a thousand cultures.”
Holder exemplifies this ideal through “The Prodigal Prince.” He explains the vibrant combination of this Haitian tale performed by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater allows him to truly “capture the poetry of Haitian folklore” with his own vocabulary while “showing that different cultures have the same universal gods only in different colors.”
Geoffrey Holder himself integrates all the things a human can be. He has received two Tony Awards for Best Director and for Best Costume Designer for his work in “The Wiz.” Numerous awards for Timbuktoo which he directed choreographed and costumed. As a painter, he won the Guggenheim Fellowship Award, and for his many television commercials with 7-Up and British West African Airlines he has garnered several Clio Awards.
Holder was premier danseur at the Metropolitan Opera House; for the Dance Theater of Harlem for whom he choreographed, designed the costumes and wrote the music for three ballets—Dougla, Banda, and Bele, and created the costumes and sets for their “Firebird.”
His paintings have been acquired by the Corcoran Gallery, the Barbados Museum, the Museum of Art in Durham, NC, the Museum of the City of New York, the National Gallery in Washington, and the Leonard Hana collection as well as by various private collectors. A retrospective of his paintings, costume designs, and photography were exhibited at the Washington at the Mexican Cultural Center in 1998.
Holder is also the author of Black Gods, Green Islands for Doubleday, and “Geoffrey Holder’s Caribbean Cookbook. A major book of his photography, Adam, has been published as well.
Geoffrey Holder’s Prodigal Prince schedule:
Dec. 7, Tuesday, Premiere Night, 7:00 p.m., Dec. 9, Thursday, 8:00 p.m., Dec. 21, Tuesday, 7:00 p.m., Dec. 23, Thursday, 8:00 p.m., Dec. 26, Sunday, 7:30 p.m., Jan. 2, Sunday, 3:00 p.m.