A creative soul from Cape Verde in Africa, Andrea Williams has found her footing in Cork where she works in dancing, choreographing, modelling and styling as well as being the art director of Hype Digital.
Living in Cork for the past 11 years, Andrea, aged 34, has forged a substantial career in visual arts and dance.
The talented dancer said she always had a natural flair for rhythm and movement.
“I always wanted to be an artist, I used to organise cultural events as a teenager. I would do the music and costumes and dances.”
Despite her passion for the arts, Andrea pursued a career in law, gaining a scholarship after high school and moving to Portugal to study.
“There was a family connection to studying law, so I ended up doing that.”
It was in Portugal that Andrea met her husband Tiago and through him she found herself moving to Cork.
“My husband got a job here in Ireland and I joined him a few months later. We thought it would be for a few months only but have been here since and love it.”
Andrea said a number of things endeared her to the Cork way of life.
“The quality of life is great, people are friendly, it’s small but has everything you need and we made friends that are now more like family.”
Despite this, Andrea said she does wish there were more sunny days.
“I don’t mind the rain, but the wind and the rain can be very cold! There is no greater country than Ireland when it is sunny. It is absolutely lovely, Ireland is very beautiful.”
When Andrea moved to Cork, she found herself returning to her passion for dance and after joining a dance class, the teacher noticed her talent and suggested she teach her own lessons. “I’ve never studied dance, I am self-taught. I watch people I like for inspiration but mostly it comes naturally, I hear the music and I can see the moves in my head straight away.”
Andrea said she adored Micheal Jackson and loved his style and his ability to sing and dance.
“He had massive energy. I also like the Bo-Town era, the creativity is amazing.”
The dancer said her career in the arts was unplanned but she couldn’t be happier and is delighted with how it is going.
Andrea began her own dance classes and then branched out into choreography and styling as well as modelling and was an integral part of one of Denise Chaila’s music videos, choreographing, styling Denise Chaila and appearing in the video.
“It’s been hectic, it has not been easy, there was a lot of putting myself out there, but it has been going well.”
The talented dancer is also involved in a number of voluntary roles where she shares her skillset with children and other groups.
“I worked with Cork Migrant Centre, before Covid, I was teaching dance classes to kids from the migrant community and also those living in Direct Provision Centres for the past three or four years.
“I’ve also worked with the Cork Sexual Violence centre in a few campaigns, last one was a flashmob called One Billion rising to raise awareness on violence against women.”
Andrea also worked with the Clonakilty Coalition Centre where she delivered weekly dance classes to people with special needs.
“I was teaching with Stevie G and I was very nervous, as I had never taught anyone with special needs, but everyone was so full of energy and made me feel at ease. The energy and innocence... it was one of the best things I ever did.”
Andrea said when she first arrived in Cork, she thought she was the only black person in the city but said over the years, Cork has become more and more multicultural and cosmopolitan and now she has a wide mix of friends from all over the world living here.
“I have some close Irish friends, but also Spanish, Portuguese and French.”
Andrea said Cork is very different to Cape Verde, which is a tourist spot with an influx of tourists in the summer months.
“Cape Verde is a mix of cultures, between Africa and Europe, we are very musical people. A lot of Italian and Portuguese people also live there, they come here to retire a lot.”
Andrea said she grew up surrounded by a diverse mix of people from different languages to skin tone, accent and makeup.
“It was very mixed, you would see dark skin or blond hair and blue eyes, it was all normal.”
Andrea has an interest in the Black Lives Matter movement and the work of Irish-Nigerian Emma Dabiri, who writes about her perspectives of racism and other cultural issues in society.
“It is hard not to get involved. The BLM movement has me very active online, creating awareness. I found it exhausting, you are psychologically going through these things.”
Andrea said here in Ireland, her experience of racism has been that it is passive as opposed to ‘in your face’.
“Generally the racism here is mild.”
The talented lady said her family is a little scattered these days with close relations in Cape Verde, France, Portugal and the US.
“We keep in touch through WhatsApp and Instagram, just before the pandemic we had a massive family catch up, it was lovely, but we have not seen each other since.”
Andrea said she and Tiago are very settled in Cork now and want to stay here.
“This is my home now,” Andrea said.