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Alvin Ailey Is Getting the Full Hollywood Treatment

Alvin Ailey. Photo by Normand Maxon, Courtesy AAADT

Here's some Monday news to rock your soul: An upcoming Fox Searchlight film about the life of Alvin Ailey just got even more enticing—Barry Jenkins, the filmmaker who won an Oscar for Moonlight, has signed on as director.


It feels like quite a fitting hire. Back in 2017, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater artistic director Robert Battle choreographed an homage to Moonlight, starring Ailey standout Jamar Roberts.

In addition to big Hollywood names, the movie will have serious dance cred.

Not only is it is being made in full cooperation with the Ailey company, producers are working closely with both Battle and artistic director emerita Judith Jamison to tell Ailey's story—and bring his choreography to life. Which hopefully means we'll get to see some gorgeous Ailey dancers doing their thing onscreen.

The script, being written by Julian Breece, will be based on dance writer Jennifer Dunning's book Alvin Ailey: A Life in Dance. And, just to throw in a dash of celebrity, Alicia Keys is on board as one of the producers.

This seems to be prime time for major dance biopics. On top of recent releases about the lives of Rudolf Nureyev and Carlos Acosta, plans are also in the works for films about Michaela DePrince (directed by none other than Madonna) and, of course, Misty Copeland.

We're already getting our popcorn ready.

The Conversation
James Whiteside (Jayme Thornton for Dance Magazine)

Say you're perpetually impeccable designer Thom Browne. Say you're planning your Spring 2020 Paris menswear show along a "Versailles country club" theme. Say you want a world-class danseur to open the show with some kind of appropriately fabulous choreography.

Who do you call? James Whiteside, of course. On Saturday, the American Ballet Theatre principal—wearing pointe shoes and a glorious pinstriped tutu—kicked off Browne's presentation at the École des Beaux-Arts with a 15-minute, show-stealing solo. Whiteside choreographed the piece himself, with the help of detailed notes from the designer.

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Health & Body
Getty Images

I'd been a professional dancer for five years when I realized the pain I'd been feeling in my hip and down my sciatic nerve was not going away. I had been treating it for two years as we dancers do—with regular visits to my masseuse, physical therapy, baths, ice and lots of Aleve—but I never stopped dancing. It finally dawned on me that if I kept going at the speed I was going (which was, well, speedy), the pain would only get more severe and unrelenting, and I might never dance again.

I told myself I'd take two months off, and all would be better.

That first morning when I woke up at 10 am, I had no idea what to do with myself. My life until that moment had been dictated by class and rehearsal, every hour accounted for. How should I fill the huge swath of time ahead of me?

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