The name Alvin Ailey is very well known around the arts scene in New York City, but few details about the revolutionary dancer are commonly known. NEON’s new documentary, Ailey, attempts to change that, highlighting his pioneering choreography that centers around the African American experience. The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, and received positive reviews from critics and audience members.
Ailey is best known for founding one of the world’s most prestigious dance companies, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. The AAADT was designed to nurture black artists and inspire new breakthroughs in modern dance. His most famous project was Revelations, a ballet-inspired piece with modern and jazz elements that presents the history of the African American experience from a religious perspective. Ailey unfortunately died of an AIDS-related illness in 1989, although his work lives on through the AAADT, which the United States Congress declared a vital American cultural ambassador to the world.
The trailer for Ailey attempts to capture all of this, featuring many clips of his incredible choreography and dancing. Director Jamila Wignot wonderfully captures his joy for dance and his passion for breaking barriers in theater for the black community. Interestingly enough, this isn’t the only Ailey project that we may see, as Barry Jenkins has had a biopic of the famous dancer in development since 2019 (here’s hoping we hear an update on this project in the near future).
Ailey is also just the first in a slew of exciting upcoming features from NEON. Based on their catalog, we’ll see a whole host of various genres and stories, including a dystopian film called New Order, Kristen Stewart’s transformation into Princess Diana in Spencer, and a movie starring Nicholas Cage as a mushroom forager who loses his beloved pig. They’re also continuing their streak of thrilling documentaries, as they picked up another Sundance feature called All Light, Everywhere, which focuses on the biases of human sight, particularly regarding the usage of police body cameras.
Ailey will head to theaters on July 23. Check out the trailer below.