Dance Spotlight – Raven Sutton

Photography credit: Media Rebel

Raven Sutton is featured in this edition of Dance Spotlight!  Raven lives in Maryland and was nominated by Ciara Morales.  Ciara said, “Raven is a talented dancer who faces adversity with grace and ease as a black Deaf woman. She is paving the way for other bachateras to claim space and own who they are with all of their magic.” Check out some fun facts and information on Raven including her most memorable dance moment and her experience as a deaf dancer in the community.

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Where are you from?

I am from Alabama, but currently live in Maryland.

What (or who) inspired you to try latin dancing? Why?

My mom. My mom had such a variety of tastes in music. We dance together all the time. She also was my biggest fan, and supported me in everything I did. She was the one that gave me the pep talk before I auditioned to join Ferocity Dance Company.

What is your most memorable dance moment/experience? (Performance? Dancing with a favorite dancer? Etc.)

My most memorable dance moment was teaching a beginner bachata class to my fellow Deaf community. The feedback I received from them about the class was so positive. They told me that taking a class with a Deaf instructor inspired them and showed them that they too can dance bachata. That ignited the spark in me and my vision of bringing the Latin dance world and deaf world together.

What are your social dance pet peeve(s)? (Hygiene, No connection, People who teach while dancing, etc)

My pet peeve when it comes to social dancing is that black women who are latin dancers often do not get asked to dance a lot. To receive a good amount of dances, we often become leads or we are going up to people and asking them for a dance. Some of us black latin dancers have came together and created a hashtag that says #BlackGirlsDoSocialDance. So when you see us on the dance floor, don’t be shy. Ask us to dance.

Do you have any favorite dancers you like to watch dance or perform or who you find inspirational? If so, who and why?

My favorite dancers are Ace and Ciara! I may be a little biased since they both are my close friends, but they inspire me everyday. The work that they are doing to bring awareness of inclusivity in the dance community is amazing. They are breaking down a lot of barriers and starting conversations that need to be had. People are starting to take notice. They are dancing by example, and I am rooting for them.

Favorite latin dance genre? Why?

I would have to go with Traditional Bachata. I love the roots/history of how bachata started. I feel like I can express myself the best when dancing bachata and it sparks my creativity with footwork and freestyles.

What has your experience been like as a Deaf dancer in the latin dance community. Positive? Negative? A little of both?

My experience have been a mixture of positive and negative.

Positive because I am educating dancers, instructors, and promoters of latin dance events on the importance of getting American Sign Language Interpreters hired for their events and how to include that information on their flyers when promoting the events. A lot of dancers, instructors, and promoters are really eager to learn. That is exciting!

Negative because when social dancing I don’t normally tell people that I am Deaf. So, sometimes when people find out I am Deaf they think I am lying. I’ve had someone try and test me by putting there hands over their mouth and talking to see if I would know what they were saying. Some dancers have told people to dance with me because they couldn’t believe that I am Deaf and such a great dancer. It becomes the lead topic of conversation. I came to dance just like everyone else, not to answer hundreds of questions all night because people do not believe that I can be Deaf and a dancer.

As a Deaf dancer, I feel the vibration of the instruments that are playing in the music. I close my eyes and let it run through me, and my body moves accordingly.

Favorite dance video(s) you’d like to share?

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