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Rickey Holden

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Rickey Holden


Information: Richard Crosby "Rickey" Holden (1926-2017), organizer, author, caller of Square Dance and Round Dance, and teacher of Folk Dance.

Rickey was born on October 15, 1926. He was a square and folk dance teacher, researcher, caller, record producer, and author. Rickey is the man who first taught recreational international folk dancing in places such as Borneo, Brunei, Cambodia, Cyprus, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri-Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Rickey was largely responsible for spreading recreational international Folk Dancing throughout Europe and Asia, although he was quick to point out those teachers who preceded him in such countries as Japan (Warren Nibro and Larry & Joanne Keithley) and Scandinavia (Gordon Tracie – Seattle, and Anita Ryman – Stockholm).

Rickey learned ballroom dance in Austin Texas in 1935 and 1936. He started Square Dance and Contra Dance in Vermont in 1939. Ricky graduated from Newton High School in Newtonville, Massachusetts, in 1943. From 1943 to 1946, while at Tufts University, he started attending Ralph Page's Clarendon Street YWCA Tuesday-night dances in Boston, Massachusetts, and the Intercollegiate Outing Club Association (IOCA) dances with Al Smith. Beginning in 1946, he traveled around the country for two years, picking up various Square Dancing styles. In the spring of 1948, while stopping in San Antonio, Texas, he met the head of the San Antonio Recreation Department (SARD) and accepted a Square Dance teaching summer job, which led to his position as Square Dance "consultant." It was in one of these classes that he met Marti, whom he was later married until her death in February of 1964.

Rickey, who became known as the "Texas Whirlwind," was invited to teach at the Oglebay Institute folk dance camp in Wheeling, West Virginia. He has taught at several camps, including Stockton Folk Dance Camp in the 1940s and Idyllwild Folk Dance Workshop in 1959. Rickey also taught at many institutes, including Shirley Karsner's Kentucky Dance Institutes and others, such as those in Connecticut (run by Al Brundage), Indiana (run by Ray), New Jersey (run by Frank Kaltman), Minnesota (run by Lynn Woodward), and Texas (run by Rickey himself).

Rickey formed the Alamo Teens exhibition set that danced West Texas step and style. From this group came the dance "Cotton-eyed Joe with a Do Si Do."

After World War II, Frank Kaltman and Dan Wolfert started Folkraft Records in Newark, New Jersey in 1946. Rickey connected with the company in 1951, but continued his professional square dance calling profession throughout North America.

He worked full-time for SARD from 1948 to 1952 and also toured as a square dance caller. Beginning in 1950, he conducted the Square Dance sequence of the weekly "Hoffman Hayride" television show for WOAI-TV, the first TV station in San Antonio, Texas. He also began writing a weekly column on Square Dancing for the San Antonio Evening News. During 1951, he was chosen to go to New York as caller for the Square Dancing portion of one of the big productions the famous Rockettes staged in Radio City's Music Hall. From 1952 to 1956, he edited and published American Squares magazine.

In 1956 and 1957, Rickey toured the Caribbean and Central America, teaching Square Dance and international Folk Dance. The International Recreation Association (IRA) arranged for Rickey to tour Far East, Near East, Mediterranian, and European countries in 1957 and 1958. Rickey taught in 80 countries.

In December 1964, Rickey joined Frank Kaltman as Associate Director of Folkraft in Newark, New Jersey, and so remained until until 1967, when he moved to Brussels, Belgium, as Director of Folkraft-Europe. In 1975, Folkraft-Europe cooperated in the organization of international folk dance and folk arts Seminars throughout Europe – from Scandinavia to Iberia and Anatolia. Much more than academic study tours, these programs provided real folklore "experiences."

In July 1969, Rickey married Marcelle in San Antonio. Rickey and Marcelle continued to use Brussels as their home and base of operations. Rickey had two children, Tor and Cindy.

Rickey wrote on October 10, 2010, "The magazine American Squares was started by Charley Thomas (of the Camden, New Jersey, area) about September 1945(?). At that time Charley was buying and selling books and records (mostly limited to square and contra dance material). About 1951, Frank Kaltman and I bought Charley's operation. I took over editing and and publishing the magazine in San Antonio, Texas, and, later, in Arden (near Wilmington), Delaware. Frank and I drove a truck from Newark down to Charley's house, packed up all his stock of books and records, and drove to Newark, New Jersey, unloaded it all to Folkraft (then at 1159 Broad Street in Newark), whence Frank then handled all sales. When I started world traveling, I could no longer run the magazine, so Frank hired Rod LaFarge to edit it – which Rod did from v11n11 (July, 1958) to v15n1 (September 1959)."

Rickey was also an expert on the theory of calling ("The Square Dance Caller" 1951), contras ("The Contra Dance Book" 1955), and the "learning by doing" method of teaching folk dance without words."

Rickey passed away on December 19, 2017.




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