“I discovered theater when I was 14 and it touched something in me – but no one was black,” says Alvin Ailey in a new trailer for Jamila Vignot’s “Ellie.” The Sundance Doctor pays tribute to the pioneering choreographer and founder of one of the world’s most renowned contemporary dance companies, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. “I like to create something where nothing was there before,” he insists on the spot.
Featuring archival imagery and interviews with those who know her as well as Ellie’s own words, the film depicts the visionary’s life and legacy, and follows the creation of a new dance commission inspired by her. Ellie died in 1989. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously in 2014 from then-President Barack Obama.
“I want people to be thinking about themes of self-acceptance and self-love, the power of self-definition, not seeing themselves as others, but as you are, and embracing that,” Vignot spoke of his hopes for “Ellie”. “I want people to think about the limitlessness and beauty of black bliss as a means of resistance. I want people to leave the theater thinking about freedom and what it means to be free.”
Vignot’s credits include the Peabody, Emmy and NAACP award-winning series “The African-American: Many Rivers to Cross” and “Town Hall”. He later co-directed with Sierra Pettingil.
“Ellie” hits theaters on July 23.
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