(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

AILEY is, not surprisingly, a documentary about Alvin Ailey, but also a documentary about creating a dance that celebrated his life. The biography part begins with his birth in Texas during the Depression. There are a lot of period photographs and footage, with turn out to be somewhat misleading. We see film of a woman with two children carrying another when Ailey talks in a voice-over interview about being "glued to his mother's hip." But late we find out that Ailey was an only child, so the film is just stock footage; this puts all the older footage in question. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater began with no money and one bus for everyone. Eating on the road was a problem--this was before there was fast food--and the multi-racial troupe had problems finding hotels where they could all stay. (This is, of course, similar to the situation in THE GREEN BOOK.) Ailey's dances were modern dance, but also very political (e.g., "Masekela Language", about both South African apartheid and Fred Hampton, and his most famous piece, "Revelations", about Black liberation). My problem is that I find it difficult to relate to dance, but clearly this is worth seeing for those who have an easier time of it.

Released theatrically 07/23/21; available on various streaming services. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4), or 6/10.

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					Mark R. Leeper
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