Why I Dance: Antoine Hunter
An award-winning dancer/choreographer and beloved figure in the Bay Area, Antoine Hunter has danced with Savage Jazz Dance Company, Nuba Dance Theatre, and Robert Moses' Kin dance company. He founded Urban Jazz Dance Company and is co-director/founder of Iron Tri-Angel Urban Ballet. He teaches at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, Dance-A- Vision Entertainment, and Ross Dance Company, where he also serves as rehearsal director. Hunter has performed and taught in Rome, London, Cuba, and Africa.
I am an African-American Deaf dance artist. My desire for dance began at the age of 4. I can remember seeing everyone break dancing and I wanted to try. I got on the cardboard and did a spin and a kick—but then there was a bam!—I wound up in the hospital with an injured knee.
That knee injury was painful, but not as much as the idea of not ever being able to dance again. My passion for dance was put on hold until I was 8 and my mother took me to see Oakland Ballet. I was so in awe of the dancers' poise, grace, and their ability to use their bodies to tell a story. They touched the hearts and souls of the audience—of me.
But my mother couldn't afford to take me to any kind of dance class. We were very poor. At the same time, I found it harder and harder to fit in with the other kids—to be understood, to be heard.
I would want to play outside with the other kids, and their parents wouldn't let them play with me. Maybe it was because I was black. I wanted to hang out with the other kids of color, but they didn't want to play with me either. Maybe it was because I was Deaf. I tried to socialize with deaf people, and they didn't want to hang out with me either.
I began to feel very alone and, at one point, suicidal. But soon, there was a beacon of hope. Dance. It wasn't until I enrolled in Skyline High School in 1997 that my passion for dance was reignited. At first, the classes were very hard and I felt intimidated. And just like during my childhood years, no one wanted to dance with me. But then my dance teacher, Ms. Dawn James, approached me and told me to create a solo. I decided to dance to Whitney Houston's “I Will Always Love You."
When the music started, I began rocking my head side to side as if a boat were rocking me. I grabbed my shoulders as if I were cold and alone in the dark. Then, letting the music take me over, I was moving all over the room. During the instrumental break of the song, I began to dance as if lightning, fire, wind, water, and finally the earth were attacking me.
When I finished dancing, everyone had so many different expressions on their faces—even before they clapped. Many people told me that they could understand me and feel me.
From that day forward, I went on to learn other “languages of dance"—like African, ballet, and so much more. Soon I began to teach these languages to others. Dance is so powerful. Not only does it have the ability to bring people together, but it also has the power to heal.
I dance because I'm happy. I dance because I'm free. Lordy hallelujah, for the spirit of dance has saved me!
What if there was a way to get your dancing in front of the likes of Desmond Richardson, d. Sabela grimes and Vincent Paterson all at once? Just in case you needed another excuse to break out your best moves this week, the Dare to Dance in Public Film Festival is back, and Richardson, grimes and Paterson are among this year's judges.
Dancers and non-dancers alike are invited to submit short dance films to the international online festival, with one caveat: The dancing has to take place in a public space.
The dancers file into an audition room. They are given a number and asked to wait for registration to finish before the audition starts. At the end of the room, behind a table and a computer (and probably a number of mobile devices), there I sit, doing audio tests and updating the audition schedule as the room fills up with candidates. The dancers, more nervous than they need to be, see me, typing, perhaps teasing my colleagues, almost certainly with a coffee cup at my side.
When we're talking about the history of black dancers in ballet, three names typically pop up: Raven Wilkinson at Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, Janet Collins at New York's Metropolitan Opera and Arthur Mitchell at New York City Ballet.
But in the 1930s through 50s, there was a largely overlooked hot spot for black ballet dancers: Philadelphia. What was going on in that city that made it such an incubator? To answer that question, we caught up with Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet founder (and frequent Dance Magazine contributor) Theresa Ruth Howard, who yesterday released her latest project, a video series called And Still They Rose: The Legacy of Black Philadelphians in Ballet.
Janie Taylor didn't know if she'd ever return to the stage. But that's exactly where the former New York City Ballet principal has found herself: Nearly three years after retiring, she is performing again, as a member of L.A. Dance Project.
Taylor officially debuted with the company at its December 2016 gala in Los Angeles, then performed in Boston, via live stream from Marfa, Texas, and at New York's Joyce Theater before heading off on tour dates in France, Singapore, Dubai and beyond.
"She is wildly interesting to watch—and not conventional," says LADP artistic director Benjamin Millepied. "There are films of Suzanne Farrell dancing, where you feel like the music is coming out of her body," he says. "I think Janie has that same kind of quality."
Last night was not your average Thursday at Bay Ridge Ballet in Brooklyn, New York. Studio owner and teacher Patty Foster Grado—a former Parsons Dance Company dancer—was teaching a boys class, when with only five minutes left, she heard commotion in the waiting area and someone yelled, "There's a lady giving birth in the bathroom!"
Where can you watch Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, The Nutcracker, Coppélia and Le Corsaire all in one place? Hint: It also has extra-buttery popcorn.
Yep, it's your local movie theater. Starting this weekend, theaters across the country will be showing Bolshoi Ballet productions of classical and contemporary story ballets.
When commercial dancer Danielle Peazer took on an ambassadorial role with Reebok in early 2016, she didn't realize the gig would also lead to a career shift. But while traveling with and teaching workshops for the brand, the idea for DDM (Danielle's Dance Method) Collective started to take shape.