A magical journey, this performance was dedicated to the life and passing of renoun choreographer, teacher and performer Ed Mock (1938-1986). Ed blessed us by largely shaping the San Francisco Bay Area Performing Arts scene thorough his immense talent and beautiful spirit. Leaving a priceless legacy, he generously shared his gift of art in dance with a number of Bay Area performers of whom we cherish to this day.
In 2013, Amara Tabor-Smith, a Bay-Area choreographer who studied and danced with Mock from the age of 14, created this multi-venue 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 wandered through the city for 5 hours, including 11 site-specific performances and employing 30+ industrious performing artists.
So honored to be a part of this journey, I was asked by Amara to create 2 ritual costumes better known as Egungun costumes. "Egungun" refers to the Yoruba masquerades connected with ancestor reverence, or to the ancestors themselves as a collective force. Honoring those who have passed serve as a means of assuring ancestors a place among the living and to uphold the ethical standards of the past generations.
The Story behind these Egungun Costumes
Amara requested 2 Egungun costumes each with specific representations of ancestors who roamed the corridor of Valencia Street in San Francisco. Notoriously known for it's ethnic diversity and bohemian flavor, Valencia Street and it's surrounding area was Ed Mock's 'hood'.
The costume with the orange headpiece was created utilizing most exclusively ethnic fabrics, brightly depicted in cultural color palattes it represents the diversity of the ethnic community. Looking closely you can see where i incoporated an image of Ed Mock holding space amongst the ethnic mix.
The costume with the dark color headpiece respresented the LGBT, hipsters and hipster parents. Flannel, wool, denim, boa's and LP's were used to identify these communities. To ground the costume, I contacted Gert McMullin who was one of the original volunteers for the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Gert generously contributed a handsewn panel to this costume with Ed Mocks name in metallic.
Additionally, I looked for hands that sew in the Mission District and found a wonderful group at Praxis. Aerin Willey, Margaret Stewart and Andrea Melendez put their heart and soul into the creation of this Egungun costume honoring the ancestors of the Mission District where they reside.