News

3 Reasons We're Ecstatic That Alvin Ailey's Life and Work Are Being Made into a Movie

Alvin Ailey's life and groundbreaking work are coming to the big screen. Photo courtesy Ailey Archives. Photo by Eva F. Maze, courtesy of Ailey archives

There must be something in the water: Last week, we announced that Madonna is directing Michaela DePrince's upcoming biopic. And yesterday, we got wind of another major dance film: According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fox Searchlight has sealed the deal to make Ailey Ailey's life and work into a movie. Yes, please.

While some movies falter along their way to the big screen, we think this one's got legs (and hopefully a whole lot of lateral T's and hinges and coccyx balances, too). Why?

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Sean Aaron Carmon in Ailey's Revelations. Photo by EricGrayPhotography.com, Courtesy AAADT.

1. High-profile songstress and all-around goddess Alicia Keys is one of the film's producers.

2. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is on board. The Hollywood Reporter specifically mentioned that artistic director Robert Battle and artistic director emerita Judith Jamison will be part of the process.

Robert Battle and Judith Jamison will work closely with the movie's producers. Photo by Christopher Duggan.


3. The history should be on point. Fox Searchlight has secured the rights to Jennifer Dunning's biography Alvin Ailey: A Life in Dance.

And it goes without saying that the dance scenes will amazingly fierce and likely full of current Ailey dancers. Still, it's too early to know exactly what the film will look like: Will it be a dramatized version of the late choreographer's life? A documentary laced with archival footage and commentary from Ailey experts?

In a statement, Battle expressed his excitement for the project, saying, "We are thrilled to be working with these incredible partners to bring to the screen the amazing journey and revolutionary choreography of Alvin Ailey, whose life and legacy profoundly impacted people of all backgrounds around the world."

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Linda Celeste Sims in Ailey's rousing Cry (1971). Photo by Christopher Duggan.


We're thrilled too. What choreography do you hope to see most in the movie? (We're dying for a fiery Cry and some soulful snippets of Revelations.) Tell us in the comments.

Teachers Trending
Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy. Photo courtesy Dance With Me

Listening to Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy riff together makes it crystal-clear why each has mastered the art of partnering in the ballroom—they've long been doing this dance in real life as brothers and business partners.

Along with their "Dancing with the Stars" pedigree (and a combined three mirror-ball trophies between them), Maks and Val (and their father, Sasha) also run Dance With Me, a dance company hosting six ProAm Dancesport competitions annually and running 14 brick-and-mortar studio locations across the U.S.

Last year, the pair launched an online component, Dance & Co. The online video platform offers beginner through advanced instruction in not only ballroom but an array of other styles, as well as dance fitness classes from HIIT to yoga to strength training. "DWTS" fans will recognize such familiar faces as Peta Murgatroyd, Jenna Johnson, Sharna Burgess and Emma Slater, along with Maks and Val themselves.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
@jayplayimagery, courtesy Kerollis

In the spring of 2012, Barry Kerollis was abruptly forced into treating his career as a small business. Having just moved cross-country to join BalletX, he got injured and was soon let go.

"I'd only ever danced with big companies before," the now-freelance dance-teacher-choreographer-podcaster recalls. "That desperation factor drove me to approach freelancing with a business model and a business plan."

As Kerollis acknowledges, getting the business of you off the ground ("you" as a freelance dance educator, that is) can be filled with unexpected challenges—even for the most seasoned of gigging dancers. But becoming your own CEO can make your work–life balance more sustainable, help you make more money, keep you organized, and get potential employers to offer you more respect and improved working conditions. Here's how to get smart now about branding, finances and other crucial ways to tell the dance world that you mean business.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Courtesy Oleson

American dance educator Shannon Oleson was teaching recreational ballet and street-dance classes in London when the pandemic hit. As she watched many of her fellow U.S. friends pack up and return home from their international adventures, she made the difficult choice to stick with her students (as well as her own training—she was midway through her MFA at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance).

Despite shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders, she was able to maintain a teaching schedule that kept her working with her dancers through Zoom, as well as lead some private, in-home acro classes following government guidelines. But keeping rec students interested in the face of pandemic fatigue hasn't been easy.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.