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Store Trek is a regular feature of the Noe Valley Voice, profiling shops and businesses in and around Noe Valley. This month, we visit a new dance studio from a longtime local instructor andcheck in with the new owner of an antique store with a 15-year history on 24th Street.
MoBu Dance Studio
1605 Church Street at 28th Street
More often than not, the most inspiring teachers one encounters in life were, at one time, students amazed by teachers of their own. Such is the case with Takami Craddock, whose MoBu Dance Studio officially opened Sept. 2 in the Church Street space formerly home to the Pickled Hutch. But while many of us are lucky enough to count one great teacher along the way, Craddock was gifted with two.
Growing up in Numazu, Japan, Craddock, 48, was the very first student to train with her childhood dance teacher, Sanae Hana. Craddock danced with her from the time she was 5 until she reached 17, and then went on to attend a dance program at a local college and later become a professional dancer with dance companies in Baltimore, Md., and New York. Hana taught Craddock an important lesson that she carries with her to this day.
"She said, 'Once you open [a studio], you will never quit,'" recalls Craddock.
Craddock did not, at first, follow her teacher's advice. She opened a studio for a brief time while still living in Japan, but closed it when educational opportunities beckoned her to the United States. Closing the studio proved painful for both Craddock and her students, especially since most Japanese dance students at the time were accustomed to training with one studio for their entire youth. Craddock told herself then that should another opportunity to open a studio arise in the future, she would never quit.
Still, Craddock did not fully realize her desire to become a teacher until she arrived in San Francisco in 1991 and began studying dance at ODC/Dance. There, a teacher named Aaron Osborne changed her mind.
"I met a wonderful teacher who later died of AIDS, and I witnessed how powerful a dance teacher could be. I never seriously wanted to be a dance teacher, but when I met him, I said, 'Wow.' He was amazing," she says of Osborne.
Today, Craddock has been teaching dance for more than a decade and shows no signs of slowing down. She also heads the MoBu Dance Group, comprised of adult dancers. "My goal is to be dancing when I'm 80," she says.
For years, she taught classes at the Noe Valley Ministry on Sanchez Street. In November 2006, she opened a dance studio in the space across the street that is now home to the Noe Valley Clinic. But seven months later, Craddock was forced to move, following a neighbor's complaint to the landlord. After that setback, Craddock was hesitant about opening a new space of her own.
It wasn't until her husband Gary Craddock, owner of KitchenSync on Church Street, discovered the Pickled Hutch vacancy last spring that MoBu Dance Studio was reborn, in what Takami Craddock hopes is a permanent location.
The current studio, at Church and 28th next door to Chuck's Sun Valley Dairy, occupies a small, single-floor, one-tenant building --a rare find in Noe Valley. In her extensive remodeling, Craddock installed a maple floor, repainted the walls, and put in mirrors to create a light-filled dance space. A carpeted dressing room offers changing rooms and storage for students, while the back patio gives waiting parents and others a place to mingle without disturbing classes. Inside, Craddock's office doubles as a study for students who come directly from school and work on homework before classes.
MoBu Dance Studio offers dance lessons in ballet, hip-hop, and contemporary dance for children ages 3 and up. Classes run in 13- or 14-week sessions and cost $11 to $14 per class or $158 to $211 for the semester. Craddock's dedicated teenage dancers have the opportunity to join DancEsteem, an advanced group that performs annually at Fort Mason's Cowell Theater.
The studio also offers adult classes in Caribbean dance, yoga, prenatal exercise, pilates, "Boomer Ballet," hip-hop dance, and Afro-Cuban dance ($5 to $13 per class, $110 for a 10-class card). In addition to classes, Craddock rents the studio space for rehearsals, workshops, and community events. Starting in 2009, she plans to hold monthly acoustic music events operated by Blah Blah Woof Woof Music. But even as she works to open her studio up to all ages and a multitude of purposes, her devotion to her students (or as Craddock calls them, her "kids") remains chief on her list.
"I want my students to physically feel good and to have good self-esteem...and at the same time, I want them to have good technique. I have to give them a good base program," says Craddock.
MoBu Dance Studio's grand opening party takes place on Saturday, Oct. 25. From 3 to 6 p.m., teachers will meet and greet neighbors. From 6 to 8 p.m., DancEsteem and Blah Blah Woof Woof will hold a concert and dance performance. MoBu is open daily for classes. The current schedule is available at the studio or online at www.mobudancestudio.com.
3599 24th Street at Guerrero Street
Much like one of the antique curiosities perched upon its shelves, Gypsy Honeymoon has gracefully passed from one owner to the next more than once in its lifetime. On Aug. 14, the emporium for 17th- to 19th-century goods changed hands for the third time since opening at the corner of 24th and Guerrero streets some 15 years ago.
New owner Gabrielle Ekedal, 39, is not exactly a newcomer to the store. In fact, she's been running the shop since the previous owner, Welmoed Muller, moved to Italy 18 months ago. When Muller asked if she'd like to officially take over the business, Ekedal seized the opportunity.
"It's sort of like a dream come true for me," says Ekedal, who previously worked as a freelance fashion stylist for major retail stores, including Banana Republic. "I've been a collector of vintage and antiques since I was a teenager.... I learn something new every day. There is as much to learn about antiques as there is sand at the beach."
On the beach at Gypsy Honeymoon are furnishings, jewelry, clothing, lamps, photographs, glass, silverware, ornaments, decorative objects, and all manner of vintage ephemera. And while the shop specializes in French and European antiques, other items, like a bird mask from New Guinea, hail from countries around the world. Ekedal has also brought in a handful of new items, including candles by Seda France and jewelry by local designer Jennifer Kobrin.
From the shop's ceiling, antique chandeliers reach down toward shelves laden with multicolored glass vases, petrified seashells, old museum photographs, a vintage scale, wooden animals, bouquets of rose quartz flowers, and jars of neatly sorted iron-on letters. A well-kept dollhouse peeks from the top of one shelf, while the eerie glass eyes of a 1910 male mannequin head peer out from inside a cabinet. Especially for artists and crafters who make new work from vintage materials, a large wooden cabinet stores buttons, millinery supplies, lace remnants, beads, and other tiny objects. Prices range from less than a dollar to $8,000 for rarities like the aforementioned wax head, which would have once kept detachable collars in shape when not in use.
"We're not a collection-style antique store. We really take a lot of time, energy, and care finding items. Because of that, our clientele is often designers and working artists," says Ekedal, a collector of Art Deco and Art Nouveau metal figurines who admits a particular passion for the 1920s and early 1800s.
A jewelry case houses a bevy of unusual finds, including an 1820 mourning bracelet, made from the deceased's still-lustrous hair, and a 19th-century hand-stitched feather hatband in immaculate condition. Jewelry and accessories range in price from $95 to $1,900.
Although the overall aesthetic of Gypsy Honeymoon will stay the same--"obscure and unique," as Ekedal describes it--a few new touches may materialize soon: literary readings, acoustic music performances, and community fundraising events held at the store.
Ekedal also has taken steps to de-clutter the space.
"I have opened up the space a bit. It used to be a lot more crowded, and people really love that because it was like a treasure hunt. But I wanted to create more space and air," she says.
Stroll down the hill and take a look. Doors are open Monday through Saturday, noon to 7 p.m.