Jamila Wignot’s documentary is an immersive portrait of the African American dancer and choreographer who challenged divisions in classical dance.
Alvin Ailey was born in Depression-era Texas. He never knew his father and was raised in poverty. From there, he developed into one of the driving forces of dance in the US, cemented by his revelatory and landmark 1960 performance the ballet Revelations. It established Ailey as a powerhouse.
Ailey appears in the film via an extended interview conducted with him before his death from AIDS in 1989. His narration allows Wignot to journey through his life. At the same time, she employs a style similar in tone to Wim Wenders’ Pina (2011), allowing footage of Ailey and his company’s productions to give the film a more poetic air. The combination of artistry and biography helps to define the importance of this seminal figure.