Alfonso Ribeiro is mourning the loss of a Broadway icon. Three-time Tony winner Hinton Battle, who is known for starring in productions of The Wiz and Dreamgirls, died on January 30. As many in the Broadway community mourned his loss, Ribeiro was among those to pay tribute to his dance mentor and has opened up about his impact.
The Dancing With the Stars co-host took to Instagram to share a tribute to Battle. He shared videos of the two of them dancing on stage together when Ribeiro was quite young. Ribeiro shared a sweet message alongside the videos, sharing just how much Battle meant to him:
It’s taken me a few days to post this. My heart is truly broken. @hinton.battle passed away earlier this week. This man showed me what exceptional talent truly looked like. He was an amazing dancer singer actor performer person and friend. Everything I became as a performer I owe to Hinton. He will be missed. RIP Hinton. You will always have place in my heart.
Ribeiro had starred in The Tap Dance Musical as Willie in 1983 alongside Hinton Battle, who portrayed Dipsey. The Fresh Prince alum was only 12 at the time of the production, and it sounds like the two became close during the performances. Considering Battle had starred in numerous Broadway productions, it’s pretty remarkable that Ribeiro had him as his mentor. He definitely learned a lot of Battle, and showed off his moves on both Fresh Prince of Bel-Air with "The Carlton" and from winning Dancing With the Stars. He even reunited with partner Witney Carson for a special TikTok that included his Carlton roots.
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While Alfonso Ribeiro won DWTS Season 19, he is still very much of the show, of course. He wrapped his second season as a co-host in December, and there’s no indication that he’s leaving any time soon. He and fellow co-host Julianne Hough showed off their own moves in multiple performances during Season 32, and the skills were probably thanks to Hinton Battle. The video that Ribeiro posted proves more than enough that he knows what he’s doing when he’s on the stage.
Ribeiro doesn’t look back too often on his Broadway past, but it’s clear that it still means a lot to him. Debbie Allen confirmed the news of Hinton’s passing on Instagram, saying he “left us to dance and sing in God’s Ensemble last night.” Many had taken to the comments to share their condolences and tribute, and for Ribeiro, it just took a little bit more time to compose his words, which isn’t surprising since they were close.
Even though Dancing With the Stars is on hiatus until this fall as part of the 2024 TV schedule, it wouldn’t be surprising if the series paid tribute to Battle in some way. Not only did its co-host have a special connection to the Broadway icon, Battle also choreographed some dances on the ABC reality series, according to People. If that were to happen, Alfonso Ribeiro would definitely have to take part in it, and it would be as special as ever. However, that’s still months away, and there’s no telling if that will happen. Fans will just have to tune in and see.