Alvin Ailey’s artistic director Robert Battle discusses the film “Ailey,” which profiles the legendary choreographer and includes historic performances and interviews.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s coming season at New York City Center will celebrate Robert Battle’s 10 years as artistic director, the company announced Wednesday. After the difficulties of the past 17 months, Battle is more open to embracing the occasion than he might otherwise have been.
Director Jamila Wignot discusses AILEY, which is out now in theaters.
Memory was the anchor of famed choreographer Alvin Ailey’s work, the fuel behind the joy and restraint in his massively successful fusion of Black culture, theater and modern dance in the 20th century. That’s what those who knew and worked with him say in new documentary “Ailey,” which examines Ailey’s life and explores how to best remember a man who died more than 30 years ago but still lives on in the steps of those learning the moves he committed to dance doctrine.
The documentary "Ailey" tells the story of the late Alvin Ailey, who founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1958. Host Robin Young speaks with the film's director Jamila Wignot and Judith Jamison, a dancer and artistic director emerita of Alvin Ailey's company.
At the beginning of “Ailey” – the documentary about iconic choreographer Alvin Ailey, which opens in New York today – greatness recognizes greatness when Cicely Tyson calls him the “Pied Piper of modern dance” at his 1988 Kennedy Center Honors induction. And for this master of movement – who founded the internationally renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater company in New York in 1958 – it was all about brining black people to the traditionally white world of dance.
Too often, the idea of Alvin Ailey is reduced to a single dance: “Revelations.” His 1960 exploration of the Black experience remains a masterpiece, but it also overshadows the person who made it. How can an artist grow after such early success? Who was Alvin Ailey the man? In “Ailey,” the director Jamila Wignot layers images, video and – most important – voiceovers from Alvin Ailey to create a portrait that feels as poetic and nuanced as choreography itself.
The documentary “Ailey,” opening nationwide in theaters Aug. 6, is a long-overdue portrait of the modern dance pioneer. Alvin Ailey died in 1989 at age 58, but, significantly, much of the Insignia Films documentary was filmed in 2018 at a New York dance studio near a street named Alvin Ailey Place. As we watch a new generation of Ailey dancers taking direction from hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris, it’s as though Alvin Ailey never really left; he and his company have always evolved to meet the times.
Tremaine Emory is no stranger to designer collaborations. As a consultant, the omni-talented artist has advised the likes of Kanye West and Frank Ocean and collaborated with brands such as Nike, Adidas, Levi’s and Stüssy. Now, the No Vacancy Inn co-founder and FACE family member has added yet another string to his bow: a super-slick collaboration with Champion. Due to launch in September, the Champion Tears collection takes influence from both the sportswear brand’s archives and one of the giants of 20th century dance: Alvin Ailey. Founder of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York – and one of the most important figures in honouring Black culture through dance – the whole thing is brought to life in a film by director, dancer and star of A24’s upcoming Zola, Taylour Paige.
Tremaine Emory aims to incite reform from the inside out, utilizing platforms offered by giant conglomerates to recontextuali ze inequity and consider lingering effects of discrimination on Black America. Emory's latest move is in alignment with sportswear giant Champion, lionizing Alvin Ailey and his legendary Dance Theater in line with the forthcoming documentary film that explores Ailey's life and legacy.