He Moved Swiftly but Gently Down the Not Too Crowded Street | Ed Mock and Other True Tales in a City that Once Was is a site-specific performance conceived by Amara Tabor-Smith about the life & work of choreographer Ed Mock.
Traveling through multiple locations in San Francisco, Tabor-Smith conjured the spirit of Ed: a black, gay artist whose untimely death from AIDS in the 1980’s left a lasting impression on her and many of the region’s most important artists. Together with a cast of over 35+ local artists, Tabor-Smith tackled questions of legacy, lineage, and collective memory.
About Ed Mock
Beloved Master Choreographer/Teacher/Performer Ed Mock (1938-1986) was an adventurous innovator, and no holds barred, unorthodox, soul-baring, conjurer performer who excited, amazed and consummately entertained and moved audiences all over the world. Recognized as among the Bay Area’s most influential artists, Ed Mock played pivotal roles including Founder of the Ed Mock Dance Studio (1978-1982), and Artistic Director of Footwork Studio (1983-86); Director and Choreographer of Ed Mock & Dancers; and Hoodoo Master Modern/Afro/Jazz instructor at studios throughout the Bay Area. A playful and demanding dance teacher, Ed Mock turned out hundreds of highly professional dancers. In addition to these roles, Ed’s varied career included performing and training with Katherine Dunham, Jimmy Payne and Gloria Unti.
Born in Chicago, Ed began performing as a boy on the tables in his family’s pool room, tapping out steps for the customers. He was an all-around high school athlete, but he devoted his life to dance because as he told an SF Examiner reporter in 1980, “I just love body movement, it was all just movement for me, and sports was just a function of that. I just was always aware of my body in a sort of a dance sense. I never try to tell anybody it’s an easy life, but not a day has ever gone past that dancing didn’t make me feel good emotionally and spiritually”. With no formal dance training, Ed began performing in Chicago nightclubs, an experience he always described as having an indelible imprint on his style. “I mean you’re dealing with people who are drinking” he said, “so you have to entertain.”
In his mid 20s, he began training with such Chicago dancers as Jimmy Payne, Anna Nastif, but eventually decided to move west to San Francisco. He worked for three years in a training program for teachers under Gloria Unti at the Performing Arts Workshop, and followed that with a stint at ACT where he taught and performed. He also appeared sporadically in the Jon Hendricks’ musical, Evolution of the Blues, which ran for five years in a Broadway Theater in San Francisco. Ed eventually got his own teaching space at 32 Page Street and local dancers started flocking to him. “Oh, I know, I attract those crazies,” he once said. “Those ones that are just mad for dance.” An Ed Mock dance class was exquisite torture. He could be withering his tongue, and he drove his charges sometimes unmercifully, but since his goal was so obviously to achieve perfection, his students kept coming back. And he had the gift of being able to always find the right moment for a joke to break the tension, causing the class’s energy to soar that much higher.
As a performer, Ed knew absolutely no bounds. His companies, including the Ed Mock Dancers and The West Coast Dance Company, were known for their tight, well-drilled fluidity and their jazzy insouciance. But it was as a solo improv performer that Ed reached his zenith. He had a stock cast of characters, including “Sister God Freida,” a street-person Jesus freak who would flash from angel to devil in an instant and excoriate the audience for its sins. He could change personas almost as fast as his feet could move and he simply dared audiences to keep up with him. In 1980 and 1981, Ed went to Florence and Venice at the invitation of the Italian government to perform two of his pieces, Festival of Fools and Black Mischief. Italian audiences, it was reported, were thrilled.
Ed was elected to the Bay Area Dance Coalition Hall of Fame (posthumously in 1988). “All I’m doing is using my craziness to show you an element of your own,” he told the SF Examiner in 1980. “As an artist, you have a duty to comment on these things if you have the gift to do it”. Ed had the gift to an inordinate degree, and he had an unsurpassed love and reverence for his medium. “See, there’s nothing harder than dancing,” he once said. “It requires an incredible one-mindedness, and that’s the thing about it you just can’t top…..But that’s also part of the excitement of it, taking those risks. You just have to stay out there, barking at the moon constantly. When the spirits visit you, you have to say, ‘Take over spirits….When you have those moments, you can do anything.’”
Ed Mock taught and performed up until weeks before he died from AIDS-related complications on April 25, 1986.
Pre performance programs
Getting Crazy Looks: Moving Around Race & Identity A Movement Workshop
Facilitated By Comedian/ Educator, Dr Micia Mosely, Ph.d.
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Dancers’ Group/ONSITE presented Getting Crazy Looks: Moving Around Race & Identity A Movement Workshop at 2pm on May 4, 2015 at YBCA Forum
A dialogue and movement workshop exploring the issues of queer identity, art and race. Participants will be guided through a process of unpacking questions: what is queer? What is queer art? How does queer interact, move and inhabit race? Can race be queered? Be prepared to leave with questions unanswered and move your body.
Carried in the Body: Dance Legacies Lost and Found – A panel discussion
Moderated By Marc Bamuthi Joseph. Panelists Include, Brenda Way, Deborah Vaughn, Joe Goode, Blanche Brown, Robert Moses and Sara Shelton Mann
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Dancers’ Group/ONSITE presented Carried in the Body: Dance Legacies Lost and Found at 6pm on May 3, 2015 at YBCA Forum
An informal dialogue with Bay Area dance-makers and educators on dance lineage and legacies, with discussions about how these artists imagine that their work will be remembered or continued beyond the creative life.
He Moved Swiftly but Gently Down the Not Too Crowded Street – Ed Mock and Other True Tales in a City that Once Was
Lead Collaborators: Amara Tabor-Smith- Lead Collaborator/Choreographer/Performer Ellen Sebastian Chang- Collaborating Director/Dramaturg Dr. Anthony Brown-
Music Director Marvin K. White- Poet
Performers: Brontez Purnell, Dave Abrams, Frances Cachapero, Erin Mei-Ling Stuart, Eyla Josie Moore, Jamal Hamilton, Jesse Hewit, Jonathan Campbell, José Navarrete, Laura Arrington, Lisa Ferretti, Marc Scruggs, Melanie Cutchon, Rami Margron, Rashidi Omari, Robert Henry Johnson, R. Jefferson Joseph, Shakiri Hudson, Sophia Wang, Wayne Hazzard and Zakiya Harris Artist participating in selected dates Cecilia Marta (June 21, 22 & 23) Joanna Haigood (June 21 & 22) Rashad Pridgen (June 15, 21 & 22) Sherwood Chen (June 21, 22 & 23) Wayne Hazzard (June 21 & 22) Musicians Fredrick Harris- piano, percussion Richard Howell- saxophone, flute, percussion Tossie Long, Voice
Production: Costumes: Rene Walker, Dana Kawano, Lighting Design: Jose Maria Francos,Additional Sound design: Gabriel Todd, ODC Installation: Laura Diamondstone, Amara T. Smith. Production Manager, Graphics: Ernesto Sopprani
Note: Bios as well as contact info about venues and collaborators can be found at dancersgroup.org
He Moved Swiftly but Gently Down the Not Too Crowded Street | Ed Mock and Other True Tales in a City that Once Was is presented as part of Dancers’ Group’s ONSITE program, bringing free large-scale dance performances to the public. The commissioning and production of this world premiere is made possible by the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation 2011 Choreographer Commissioning Awards Initiative.
Founded in 1982, Dancers’ Group promotes the visibility and viability of dance. We serve San Francisco Bay Area artists, the dance community and audiences through programs and services that are as collaborative and innovative as the creative process. As the primary dance service organization for the second largest dance community in the country, Dancers’ Group’s many programs help artists produce work, build audiences and connect with their peers and the community.
Special Thanks Abadá Capoeira & Marcia Treidler, Bonnie Kamin, Dana Kawano, Elnah Jordan, Jean Kusz, J’amal Hamilton, Jose Maria Francos, Kimi Okada, KT Nelson, Lisa Ferretti, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Micia Mosely, Nina Berg, Pearl Ubungen, Bonnie Kamin, Picaro Restaurant, Salle Pianos, Simo Neri, Veronica Aiken, Brenda Way, Deborah Vaughn, Joe Goode, Blanche Brown, Robert Moses, Sara Shelton Mann, Kimi Okada, KT Nelson, Pearl Ubungen, Viracocha, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the generous R&M/ODC Commons dance community and Micia Mosely.