An artivist since junior high, Andre has had an unparalleled and rich understanding of not only his own spirituality but, the power that comes with discovering your calling at an early age, thanks to his mentor, Mr. Lamont O’Neil, the head of a church-affiliated step-dancing ministry called Nubian Gents, which taught people about God through dance and the reason he’d tour both Europe and Australia for two consecutive summers, before being accepted to study contemporary dance at the University of North Carolina’s School of the Arts.
As he embraced his identity as a queer man, Andre would eventually be forced to make a heartbreaking realization about religion and its unwillingness to accept him. As he explains, “The same place I learned to be a vessel to God pushed me out due to my sexuality…
I had to find my relationship outside of religion to then learn I was enough and that God could use me in right standing outside of the attachment of any group. I’m thankful for this rejection because it is the same protection I use today. I take my spirituality with me everywhere I go.”
For Andre, dance is more than dance, it is freedom. He describes it more eloquently saying,”“[When I dance], it feels like I am infinite, and that’s what I love mostly about allowing my body to move. I don’t feel flesh and bones, I just feel a rippling and a wave through my body. And that feeling…allows me to be my most authentic self without it being forced.”
Perhaps that’s why he’s so invested in making sure “people learn to be themselves. That there’s room for them to be who they are, especially being men.” In doing so, he is changing the world for the better by “bring[ing] men together outside of judgement, religion, race, and sexuality.”
All in the name of showing we are bigger than the limitations placed on us by ourselves, and most importantly, the world.