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Rickey Holden 
Square Dance Caller, Article Author
ID: 1817

Rickey Holden  

Richard Crosby "Rickey" Holden is 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 is largely responsible for spreading recreational international folk dancing throughout Europe and Asia, although he is 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 was born in Connecticut in the United States on October 14, 1926. Rickey learned ballroom dance in Austin Texas in 1935 and 1936. He started square and contra dancing in Vermont in 1939. From 1943 to 1946, while at Tufts University, he started attending Ralph Page's Clarendon Street YWCA Tuesday-night dances in Boston, Massachusetts. 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 Holden 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 dance 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, Mediterranean, and European countries in 1957 and 1958.

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. Since 1975, Folkraft-Europe has 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 provide real folklore "experiences."

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

Rickey Holden 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 to edit it -- which Rod [LaFarge] did from v11n11 (July, 1958) to v15n1 (September 1959)."

Rickey died on December 19, 2017.

Among Rickey's publications are:

Major Works

  • The Contra Dance Book, by Rickey Holden, Frank Kaltman and Ola Kulbitsky, Newark (New Jersey), U.S.A., 1956.
  • Greek Folk Dances, by Rickey Holden and Mary Vouras, Brussels, Belgium, Folkraft-Europe, 1976.
  • Instant Hash, by Rickey Holden and Lloyd Litman, Cleveland (Ohio), U.S.A., 1962.
  • International Folk Dances for Fun and Recreation (English and Chinese Editions). Singapore, 1960, 1961.

Other Works

  • A Dance Notation System Developed in Romania by Vera Proca-Ciortea, explanation and commentary, Newark (New Jersey), U.S.A., 1964
  • Descriptions of 58 Israeli Folk Dances, Tel Aviv, Israel, 1962.
  • Rhythmic Activities for Fun and Recreation (English, Hindi and Bengali editions). Gwalior, M.P. and Calcutta, India, 1961, 1962.
  • The Square Dance Caller, San Antonio (Texas), U.S.A., 1951.

Dance Description Booklets

  • Assyrian Folk Dances (accompanying Folkraft LP-4), Newark (New Jersey), U.S.A., 1962.
  • Bulgarian Folk Dances (accompanying Folkraft LP-15, LP-24 and LP-25), by Rickey Holden and Dennis Boxell, Newark (New Jersey), U.S.A., 1965.
  • Hungarian Folk Dances (accompanying Folkraft LP-28, LP-29 and LP-37), by Rickey Holden and Dr. Csaba Pálfi, Newark (New Jersey), U.S.A., 1969.
  • Lithuanian Folk Dances (accompanying Folkraft LP-35), collected by Vytautas F. Beliajus and described by Rickey Holden, Newark (New Jersey), U.S.A., 1971.
  • Macedonian Folk Dances (accompanying Folkraft LP-15, LP-24 and LP-25), by Rickey Holden, Wouter Swets, Atanas Kolarovski and Dennis Boxell, Newark (New Jersey), U.S.A., 1965.


  • "Ajde Lepa Maro: A Serbian Dance from the Area of Šumadija," by Rickey Holden and Dennis Boxell. Viltis, XXIV, No. 4 (1964), 8.
  • "Šumadinka: A Serbian Dance from Šumadija," by Rickey Holden and Dennis Boxell. Viltis, XXIV, No. 4 1965, 8.
  • "Two Slovenian Dances: Koutri and Źakli," By Rickey Holden and Dennis Boxell. Viltis, XXIV, No. 6 1960, 12.

In addition to squares and contras, dances Rickey has taught include Adana, Ajde Lepa Maro, Berovka, Čerešna, Cigančica, Ćiro, Couple Hasapiko, D'Hammerschmeidsg'selln, Das Fenster, Drmeš iz Posavina, Gružanka, Hebečko, Jabučica, Johnson's Special Contra, Jovano Jovanke, Jovica, Kalendara, Kolenike, Koutri, Lesnoto, Marko Skače, Menuettwalzer, Natalijino (Natalija), Ooska Gookas, Pljeskavac, Po Zelenoj Trati, Pop Marinko, Potam Povam, Sarajevka, Savila se Bela Loza, Sepastia Bar, Šetnja, Stara Vlajna, U Šest, Zaječarka, and Źakli.

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