When does a project begin?
Over two years ago, I met with Amara Tabor-Smith to ask if she were interested in creating a new work for our ONSITE program, which brings site-specific dance performances, free-of-charge, to locations throughout San Francisco. Amara and I had not connected much since the early eighties when we danced together in Ed Mock’s company. Over the years, I had followed her career as she went off to work with Urban Bush Woman and then returned back to the Bay Area to carve out a place for her own creative interests that combined dance, poignant stories and food, all the while nourishing those in attendance. During this meeting, Amara noticed a framed picture of Ed Mock—shot in profile with Cecilia Marta—and when she next spoke, there was a glow of something newly discovered in her face. She said, “the piece should be about Ed; it’s time that this new generation of dancers know about his artistry and his life.”
That’s how a project begins.
This month audiences will get the chance to discover the trajectory of Amara’s endeavor. Entitled, He Moved Swiftly But Gently Down the Not Too Crowded Street: Ed Mock and Other True Tales in a City That Once Was, the piece will take place literally on the streets, and travel to the studios and businesses at which Ed performed, taught in and frequented, all the while conjuring up moments of magic that reflect the life and times of our beloved Ed, who, in 1986, died at the age of 48. For those of us who knew Ed, who watched him dance and danced with him—in class and on stage—our individual and collective memories of him and that time, some of which where of the era before AIDS, will be rekindled.
One of Amara’s many collaborators, the poet Marvin K. White, contributes our opening article in this month’s issue, which reflects on many of the work’s themes. Emblematic of where it landed, he writes, “She had indeed moved from thinking about Ed to having conceived a ‘piece’ and a ‘peace’ about Ed.” Included in this issue is a four-page pullout that documents how to participate in this site-specific dance, which will travel through multiple locations from Civic Center to deep in the Mission, over the course of five hours. The work promises to be cinematic, and up-close and personal, and best, I have no doubt that Ed’s spirit will glimmer and glide through the assemblage.
Motivating creatively, while bringing new ideas and even traditional ones forward, is another recurring theme throughout this issue. Rob Taylor writes about five Mexican Folklórico companies that each have a unique perspective and approach to re-creating and performing works that were born and developed in a variety of regions in Mexico. Rob also contributes an interview with Antoine Hunter, one of the dozens of artists featured this year in the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival’s annual June extravaganza. Their conversation reveals how a deaf dancer navigates notions of hearing music while performing.
A new writer this month for In Dance, Miriam Wolodarski, looks at the tradition of Contact Improvisation (CI) and its brief yet important history in dance—brief compared to so many other world dance forms. Her article brings attention to the west coast’s practitioners of CI and addresses some of the stereotypes associated with the form.
In Dance is filled with extra-special articles on a variety of topics including Rowena Richie’s investigation into real and imagined twinning, and a book review that gives insight as to how urban Chinese spaces are impacted by moving bodies in relation to place, time and identity.
Enjoy the wide variety of opportunities to imagine new intersections to your own projects or just wait a beat, or two, and feel the surge of an idea that allows you to imagine something crazy-good and of the moment—that is, until the next sensational project presents itself.
I’m looking forward to seeing you on the streets during the presentation of He Moved Swiftly…
—Wayne Hazzard, Executive Director