Antoine Hunter practices with his Urban Jazz Dance Company at the Shawl Anderson Dance Center in Berkeley.

Dancer Antoine Hunter infuses art with Deaf culture

on December 26, 2013

OAKLAND — Antoine Hunter is used to talking about what most would call his disability.

Despite a prestigious resume in ballet and jazz dance, Hunter is labeled first and foremost a Deaf dancer.

But instead of distancing himself from the label, Hunter has embraced it by becoming an ambassador for “Deaf culture” in the Bay Area. He is the founder and creative director of Urban Jazz Dance Company, an ensemble that incorporates sign language into its choreography, and the President of the Bay Area Black Deaf Advocates.

A native of West Oakland, Hunter was born completely deaf in his left ear and “hard of hearing” in his right. Nonetheless, he learned to dance at Oakland’s Skyline High before attending the California Institute of the Arts on scholarship.

Having emerged from a rough neighborhood, with only his mother as a role model, Hunter has turned his focus toward helping others.

“I try to be the role model for the community and to be the one to say ‘I’m going to do it’,” he said. “I want to make a path for others who are Deaf, for people of color or who are low income—people who need a voice.”

Hunter dances around the world, primarily with artists without hearing disabilities, but he feels most comfortable with his own company. Dancing with others who are hard of hearing, he said, allows them to be free to express themselves in different ways than more conventional dance groups.

“Not everyone is going on the same choo-choo train,” he said. “The dancers have to find a way to work together while everybody is feeling the music differently.”

See the video above for more about Hunter’s relationship to music and his promotion of Deaf culture.

15 Comments

  1. AHR on December 27, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    Terrific guy, excellent piece! I’d love to see him and his company dance.



  2. ME on December 30, 2013 at 9:01 am

    Mr. Hunter is surely a young leader in the Deaf Community, in the Urban Community of his hometown Oakland, and in the Great Community of Society as a whole. He has worked hard to open the eyes and minds of others to see not only Deaf as simply different, not disabled but also to see Dance as a pure form of clear communication and expression. He is a pioneer in the community and in the professional arena of Dance. More well written local articles like this should be written about him and he should be gaining more national and international publicity as well. As a member of the Deaf Community, I am both proud of him and honored to know him.



  3. Cfrazier on December 30, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    This is a wonderful article. I am truly inspired by this man’s drive and dedication. What others may have thought was out of the realm of possible, Mr. Hunter has not only achieved but has excelled as not only a dancer, but a leader and role model for the Deaf Community and anyone who has a dream. I look forward to seeing him perform one day.



  4. Samuel Caraballo on December 31, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Hi I would like to says your video real spiritual influence me. I am dancer from since HIgh School and Co-founder with with dancers, all of us are Deaf and in New York City but in past we have to closed our dance company cuz of many reasons. Yes, hurt me a lot. I wish you be here and I will join dance Perforamnce with your group.



  5. Ellen Bronson on January 4, 2014 at 9:12 am

    It’s beautiful and truly opens hearing world’s eyes and gives bigger insight about our deaf culture.



  6. bas on January 4, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    very good report ! see you soon , Astrid



  7. Moses ogunleye on January 22, 2014 at 5:43 am

    Great work ang great vision.



  8. Sierra Robinson on January 27, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    I dance with this guy at East bay Center for the Performing Arts and he is amazing! He is so inspirational to everyone out there! I am so happy to even get the privilege to even work with him! And I know he is going too dance for as long as he lives! We appreciate you and thank you!

    Peace and Blessings

    Sierra Robinson



  9. nathifa on February 6, 2014 at 8:19 am

    My friend, amazing work. You are communicating to the world now…i remember how frustrating it was…Hopefully you can plan a trip to NYC soon** #DanceSavedMyLife #CalArts #Mr.Hunter #DeafDancer #EBinc



  10. Steve on March 24, 2014 at 10:26 pm


  11. lise on April 26, 2014 at 11:24 pm

    What an inspiration! Beautifully said and filmed. Art truly saves lives and dance has saved mine many times. Keep up the noble work!



  12. Paunika on April 27, 2014 at 1:12 am

    Thoughly inspirational and beautiful!



  13. Mikoazule on April 27, 2014 at 9:45 am

    This man is an exceptional human being. His ability to see what most people cannot see in themselves is extraordinary and insightful. As a teacher he allows his students to express their personal authenticity. As a dancer he exudes pure love. He is a gift to his community.



  14. Jenny Glithero on April 28, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Antoine leaps hurdles literally and metaphorically with grace, dignity, determination and unrelenting spirit. His passion for dance doesn’t stop at door of his studio but runs out to the streets and affects everyone that he meets creating connections and communities with love and freedom of self. Superman does exist… And he’s living in Oakland!
    Jenny, London.



  15. Kofi B on December 17, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    Greetings you you in the name of Jesus Christ.
    I am deaf kofi from Ghana of west Africa and Visit to Fremont, CA. I want to visit you



Photo by Basil D Soufi
logo
Oakland North

Oakland North is an online news service produced by students at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and covering Oakland, California. Our goals are to improve local coverage, innovate with digital media, and listen to you–about the issues that concern you and the reporting you’d like to see in your community. Please send news tips to: oaklandnorthstaff@gmail.com.

Latest Posts