Alvin Ailey's life and groundbreaking work are coming to the big screen. Photo courtesy Ailey Archives.

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

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.

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Stark Photo Productions, Courtesy Harlequin

Why Your Barre Can Make or Break Your At-Home Dance Training

Throughout the pandemic, Shelby Williams, of Royal Ballet of Flanders (aka "Biscuit Ballerina"), has been sharing videos that capture the pitfalls of dancers working from home: slipping on linoleum, kicking over lamps and even taking windows apart at the "barre." "Dancers aren't known to be graceful all of the time," says Mandy Blackmon, PT, DPT, OSC, CMTPT, head physical therapist/medical director for Atlanta Ballet. "They tend to fall and trip."

Many dancers have tried to make their home spaces as safe as possible for class and rehearsal by setting up a piece of marley, like Harlequin's Dance Mat, to work on. But there's another element needed for taking thorough ballet classes at home: a portable barre.

"Using a barre is kinda Ballet 101," says 16-year-old Haley Dale, a student in her second year at American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. She'd bought a portable barre from Harlequin to use at her parents' home in Northern Virginia even before the pandemic hit. "Before I got it, honestly I would stay away from doing barre work at home. Now I'm able to do it all the time."

Blackmon bought her 15-year-old stepdaughter a freestanding Professional Series Ballet Barre from Harlequin early on in quarantine. "I was worried about her injuring herself without one," she admits.

What exactly makes Harlequin's barres an at-home must-have, and hanging on to a chair or countertop so risky? Here are five major differences dancers will notice right away.

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December 2020