Magazine article Dance Spirit

Beating the Odds

Magazine article Dance Spirit

Beating the Odds

Article excerpt

JAZZ DANCER ANTOINE HUNTER TALKS ABOUT DANCING DEAF. By Wendy Garofoli

Antoine Hunter is proof that the healing powers of dance are no joke. Antoine, who's completely deaf in his left ear and hearing impaired in his right, has had the kind of professional dance career many without disabilities can only dream of. The 26-year-old took his first dance class in 10th grade, and now works with four dance companies in California's Bay Area (including Savage Jazz Dance Company and the Alayo Dance Company), teaches at 12 different locations and recently filmed a commercial for Expedia. "Antoine has a natural cat-like grace that comes from his spirit and how he feels about life," says SJDC director Reginald Ray-Savage. "He embraces his life with a movement quality that has a subtle sensuality and powerful masculine grace."

Antoine sat for an interview with DS-sans interpreter, though he does wear a hearing aid-and his spirit and commitment to dance shone through in every answer.

DS: Why did you start dancing?

Antoine: It's a way to communicate with people. At my high school, Skyline High School in Oakland, it was hard. The hearing people didn't want to talk to me because I was deaf. And the deaf people didn't want to talk to me because I had some hearing. My dance teacher, Dawn James, saved my life. As an assignment, she had me make up a dance solo to perform. I remember it was to Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You. " For the first time in my life, people actually looked at me and they felt what I was saying.

DS: How are you able to perform on-stage to music and with other dancers?

Antoine: You have to use your "spider sense." People say they feel vibrations through the floor, but when you're jumping all over the stage, you don't really feel them. You've got to keep the rhythm in yourself. You've got to keep your eyes open. You've got to use the people in front of you and around you, because they have the rhythm. …

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