Writer, musician, dancer, and director Brontez Purnell reconstructs the life and movement of the late visionary choreographer Ed Mock in Unstoppable Feat: The Dances of Ed Mock. Blending archival footage from the 1970s and 80s, oral histories, choreographic reimaginations, and other media, Unstoppable Feat rebels against erasures resulting from the transitory nature of dance, the decimation of AIDS, and the uncategorizable art’s resistance to being told through traditional means.
The film documents Purnell’s own uncovering of a creative lineage which he reconstructs through historical research and speculative performance. “As queer people, art makers, radicals, and allies alike, many of us are still deep in the process of excavating the memories of our fallen spiritual family, in every sense of the word,” Purnell says. “We are often surprised to find the bits and pieces of their lives peeking through buried histories.”
Unstoppable Feat strengthens the creative-familial connections that were already present, if unknown. The film serves less as a definitive timeline or biography than as an interpretive guide through dance and performance history that reinforces a lineage despite connections severed by the stultifying effects of AIDS, homophobia, racism, and the passage of time. As Purnell puts it, “I believe Ed Mock is the missing choreographic link between Alvin Ailey, Anna Halprin, and Bill T. Jones.”