Updated: Nov 24, 2020
The Dance for All Bodies organization has recently conducted interviews with its instructors Alicia Langlais, Antoine Hunter, Janpi Star, Clara Rodriguez, Auti Angel, and Stephanie Bastos. Each instructor brings a unique perspective and experience to the world of integrated dance. During this 6 week series, the Dance for All Bodies blog will feature one instructor interview on Saturdays.
A Bay Area native, Purple Fire Crow, also known as Mr. Antoine Hunter, is an award-winning African, Indigenous, Deaf, Disabled, Two Spirit producer, choreographer, film/theater actor, dancer, dance instructor, model, poet, speaker, mentor and Deaf advocate. Mr Hunter received his training in dance and acting at Skyline High School in Oakland, Ca; California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), and Paul Taylor Dance School in NYC. Mr. Hunter has his own company — Urban Jazz Dance Company — and has performed with Savage Jazz Dance Company, Nuba Dance Theater, Alayo Dance Company, Robert Moses’ KIN, Man Dance, Sins Invalid, Amara Tabor-Smith, Kim Epifano, Push Dance Company, Fly Away Productions, Joanna Haigood, OET theater, and the Lorraine Hansberry Theater.
Mr. Hunter is a faculty member at East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, Shawl-Anderson, Youth in Arts, and Dance-A-Vision. He is the founder of Bay Area International Deaf Dance Festival and has appeared in many dance teacher magazines.
During an interview with Dance for All Bodies, in his own words, Antoine Hunter describes his background with dance and how dance can be a unique form of human expression:
“My name is Antoine Hunter. Where I’m living now is Oakland, California. I started dancing outside of my mother’s womb. ‘Hey I’m in the world!’ I started dancing professionally right after high school. I found that dance was a way to communicate and sustain my life. What I enjoy most about dancing is that I can be free and be whoever I want to be: a bird, lion king, anything, happy, sad. It allows me to feel and understand what I am.
Being Deaf, I have Deaf culture and disability culture. Many people have different ideas about what that is. For me, I have two together: deaf with disability. The impact is just learning about myself to be unique and educate myself and society what it is to be unique and what comprises me as an individual.
The styles we do are all styles: Ballet, Hip Hop, African. In terms of African dance, there are different tribes in African dance. For me, I love them all, I can’t really pick one, that’s why we call it Urban Jazz Dance Company, that’s the company that I founded. When I teach, all of the muscles in the body are working and the way you communicate as individuals. It is just a place to be human and be alive and have access. It is really amazing to have. To convince people, just try, come watch, because you will be very tempted to move.
I have been dancing and teaching for over 25 years and I’m still learning from this organization. I think the message you want to give people who are coming in is to be you, this is a safe space to be you. Some people think dancing means you need to be perfect like other people. I think that what makes dance unique is that everyone dances in their own style and we can learn from each other and if you are worried about making a mistake in dance, ‘oh no’, you will leave out opportunities for miracles to happen. The greatest inventions happened by accident. What happens in my class is that if you start dancing with the group and you ‘mess up’, I will tell you that it is just an unexpected solo and ‘get down with it.’”
Thank you Antoine Hunter for teaching with Dance for All Bodies. We appreciate your free spirit, the accessibility that you provide to all bodies, and the opportunity to uniquely express ourselves through dance.