Antoine Hunter

More Than Just a Visit

Antoine Hunter speaks and performs for Ms. Lamons’ American Sign Language classes.

Justin De Leon, Staff Writer

ASL, American Sign Language, is one of the most beautiful and diverse languages to ever exist. It is purely visual. It was made for the intention of communicating efficiently if you are deaf, but Antoine Hunter and Zahna Simon who are deaf dancers, are showing the world the true beauty and essence of the language. I am a third level ASL student and one thing I know for sure, which was put in better words in a quote by the first deaf president of Gallaudet University, founded in 1864 and for deaf students,  says, “Deaf people can do everything hearing people can, just not hear.”

Antoine Hunter is a deaf dancer, choreographer, model, speaker, mentor, and teacher who is an Oakland native that teaches dance all around the bay and is a master at ballet, hip-hop, modern jazz, praise dance, African, and creative movement. Antoine came to Pinole along with Zahna Simon, who dances for Antoine’s dance company named Urban Jazz Dance Company and is the director of the company.

They spoke to the ASL students and showed us the value of doing what you dream of and never holding back. Zahna and Antoine danced and the whole class of ASL attentively watched in awe by the talent and creativity that was put into the choreography itself. ASl 3 student Farwa Zaidi says, “Your rain dance is still stuck in my head. It was so pretty, and when you had us softly sign “rain”, while Zahna was dancing, it was like rain was actually falling in the room somehow.”  Aside from dancing, there was a mesh of ASL and dancing which was very interactive between the ASL students. ASL 1 student Lewis Leung says “Feeling the bass and watching you both dance helped me understand how deaf people feel the music.” There also was learning of new signs as well, such as Colombian sign language, which was done by a student named Andrea “Valentina” Rueda Pena who happens to be the first deaf student at Pinole and is new to ASL. It is amazing to see her trilingual interpreter who speaks to her in Spanish while signing in ASL. She also was able to help interpret for Antoine and Zahna. This was a learning experience,  for both the ASL class and our visitors, and was also an unforgettable one at that.

All in all, the event was amazing and truly a gift to have seen what ASL and being deaf is about in another aspect.  Antoine Hunter’s life, passion, and profession is something inspiring to me. I find that if we can focus on the positivity in this world, then we all can learn to embrace our own traits, personality, ethnicities, and backgrounds. We all can do what our heart desires and we shouldn’t hold back because of any obstacles in the way. I want to thank both Antoine and Zahna from the bottom of my heart. We here at Pinole Valley High welcome you to come again.