We had the good fortune of connecting with Deborah Conton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Deborah, why did you pursue a creative career?
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Where do I begin? Dance and my spiritual practice continue to be a love of mine. It’s a ritual for me and how I create happiness and blessings in my life via my ancestors.
Dancing for me started in the club at a young age in Atlanta with my first experience at MJQ Concourse with Deep Saturdays( shoutout to Kai Alce, DJ Kemit, Kemeticjust (Justin), and Cullen Cole). Over time, I got to meet some amazing folks on the dance floor, which shaped my love for club dance. The movement is organic and not so technical. It is a mixture of House, Vogue, Waacking, and freestyle, the movement that is based in Atlanta, and ancestral pedagogy.
As I matured within the movement, I started to notice a lack of Black Women and Femmes in club culture, which was the catalyst for ‘Rise’, a continued work-in-progress. I started applying for residencies in New York City and that is how my career came about in Dance (which was in 2016). The biggest flex for me was Works and Process with the Guggenheim Museum in New York City with Ladies of Hip Hop with the Dancing Black Bodies project, which came about due to the lack of Black Women and Femmes in non-traditional dance spaces. This project was curated by Michele ‘Byrd’ McPhee and Latasha Barnes.
To be frank, it was not easy, as I am more of a freestyle kinda dancer and not so technical with my movement.
However, that is what stood me out from everyone else.
In regard to my spiritual practice, I started in 2018 under the moniker of Dee Spark Tarot. The majority of my clients are Black Queer, Trans, Gender nonconforming, and non-binary folk. Noticing a trend of binary readers and spiritualists made me question how others are evolving in their journey and if there was accessibility within these spaces. Lo and behold, I learned the hard way. It will be five years on this journey, which birthed two Oracle decks and another Tarot deck on the way in Spring 2023.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
So, I’m back and forth between Atlanta and New York City. Here are some of my Atlanta faves:
MJQ, Delbar, Eight street sushi, R. Thomas Deluxe Grill, Waffle House, Publix for those lemon pepper wings (judge me. I don’t care), Paradise Atlanta, Apache XLR, and every Labor Day Weekend for the Atlanta Weekender, a House Music festival created by Atlanta’s own, Salah Ananse, and of course, House In The Park (created by Ramon Rawsoul. What’s good, fam?). I have been to every single House In The Park since 2004.
For some dope-ass music curators: Kai Alce, Ash Lauryn, DJ Kemit, Stefan Ringer, DJ Kemit, Ron Pullman, and so many others.
If you’re in New York City: Nightlife wise – Nowadays, 8 Wyckoff, House of Yes, Public Records, Deluxx Fluxx, Brooklyn Mirage, Brooklyn Monarch, Soul Summit at Fort Greene Park, Sundae Sermon in Harlem, NYC Summerstage, C’Mon Everybody, Lambda or OTA at 3 Dollar Bill, The Shelter (those late nights/early mornings dancing. Heaven), any outdoor House Music events, any event with Rich Medina, DJ Spinna, Mari Ella, Moonbabe3000, Donis, Musclecars, Lovie, Beewack, and Le Bain at the Standard Hotel.
For food: I usually cook more at home because I have a bit of a picky palette – Bushniwa, JJ Fish and Chips, Brown and Butter, Natural Blend, Saraghina, Royal Rib House, Sushi Yashin, Fukurou Brooklyn, summers laying out at the Rockaways or going upstate to hike and home so I can rest.
I love going to Central Park or Prospect Park sans holidays and hot summer months. Otherwise, it’s really nice. The Guggenheim Museum, Richard Beavers Gallery, The Met, and any exhibit that has Black Artists in it.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My mother, Elaine Osby aka Sister E, and my father, Alfred Canton. Both made me appreciate Black Music and music as a whole growing up. Mom did independent radio (WRFG 89.3 FM) for many years in Atlanta.
DEEP SATURDAYS at MJQ with Kemit, Kai Alce, Cullen Cole, and Kemeticjust. Felt at home.
Afro Mosaic Soul Dance Collective – I have been a part of this dance collective for several years. We are the outsiders of ‘street dance’ because we’re all from the club. We’re organic in our approach and it just flows.
Ladies of Hip Hop – Gave me a chance and still do among some of the most amazing dancers on the planet. I’m humbled.
Ash Lauryn – A dear friend and amazing DJ. She has always been a catalyst and to see her shine is a true reflection of where she started. We are here!!
My siblings: Una, Josh, D’shay, and Eli for letting me unapologetically Black and Queer.
My clients via my divination work. Of course my Ile, Ifa Otito Ile Aye, and Chief Erelu Awo for letting me fulfill my destiny and purpose.
And most importantly: Myself and my ancestors. Taken me a while to get to this point and without their support, I wouldn’t be here.
Instagram: Deeeebo_x and deesparktarot
Personal photo by Maria Hackett 3rd additional photo by Crystal Blake.