Communicating the Power of Dance: Antoine Hunter

Antoine Hunter LEAP '09 strikes a pose on stage.Antoine Hunter describes himself as many things. The award-winning dancer, director, choreographer, and student in the Saint Mary’s LEAP (Liberal Education for Arts Professionals) program explained, “I am a son, a community leader, a brother, a father, a teacher, a spiritual person. I am a man of faith and a man of science. I am an African-American man.”

He is also deaf. But Hunter doesn’t view that as a limitation, saying, “The joy of being a deaf dancer is that it allows me to listen to my spirit more, without any other distraction. I learned at an early age that dance was a way to communicate.”

Growing up in West Oakland, Hunter found a mentor in Reginald Ray-Savage, artistic director and founder of the Savage Jazz Dance Company. When Hunter couldn’t afford more lessons, Savage promised to cover the cost as long as he showed commitment. Hunter recalled, “I knew it meant I had to come to class even if I didn’t feel like it. That word changed me and made me a stronger person. I had a vision that I’d be a professional dancer, but not in the way that I’m living it today.”

Hunter has performed throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and around the world. He has founded the Urban Jazz Dance Company, Iron Triangle Urban Ballet, and Bay Area Deaf International Dance Festival. He has also held leadership roles with the Bay Area Black Deaf Advocates and Northern California chapter of the California Association of the Deaf.

“Being a deaf role model is important to me because I didn’t have one growing up. I get emails nearly every month from people all over the world saying how I have inspired them to be great in their own right,” Hunter said.

That Hunter now inspires both the deaf and hearing dancers he teaches and directs is evident in how he views his profession. Hunter said, “Dance has the power to heal. It has the power to bring a community together. Dance is as powerful as all the elements of the world. I tell people that if they want to be a great dancer with a career, get ready to work hard—emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually, and artistically.”