Angie Smalis is a contemporary dance artist and she came to Limerick with her husband Mani, a landscape architect, 13 years ago.
From Greece and Austria respectively, Angie and Mani are raising their 5 children in Limerick. “Four of our kids were born in Limerick and one in Athens. They all identify themselves as Limerick people. There is a sense of belonging for us here. We grow older here. We of course carry influences, experiences and our country’s own cultures with us but in an inclusive way. We love to share food and chats with friends. We love to explore nature, go for walks. We love to listen to local stories, learn the history of the city and create our own as we go along.
“Coming from Greece and Austria, we relocated to Limerick in 2003.” The family came to Limerick for Angie to take up a job with Daghdha Dance Company. They came to Limerick without even visiting first but as Angie says, “at that time, we decided that we were up for the adventure to put down roots in a place that only belonged to our imagination.”
Angie is Artistic director of Limerick Youth Theatre, a company of young performers, dancers, writers, designers, directors, producers and film-makers that was set up in 1997 with a vision of providing a unique opportunity for young adults from all backgrounds to cross social/cultural divides through youth drama experiences. Angie guides and encourages young people who have a passion for dance in Limerick Youth Dance, who want to develop as a dancer, to create new dance pieces and to perform on stage and screen. Angie is also director of Patterns Dance Collective, a group of dance artists with intellectual disabilities under the auspices of the Daughters of Charity Service, Limerick. Angie is keen to point out all the benefits of living here.
“Limerick is multicultural, accepting and small enough city centre to get around without having to drive. Work, school, crèche, shops, parks and anything else we need is in 15 minutes distance walk from our house.”
“Our families from Athens and Vienna visit Limerick often. Their own friends visit, too. Through the years, Mani and I have become great ambassadors for Limerick and actually, Ireland. I am not even sure how many times we walked the city showing friends around. How many times we have driven relatives to the Cliffs of Moher and how much Limerick ham we have eaten along the way!” she laughs. “It is reassuring for them to know how welcoming Limerick has been to us.”
“Culture is important to the way our children are growing up to become independent, curious and creative people. How they learn , what they believe in, access and understanding of customs, sport and art, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by them as members of society, is important to Limerick, too.
“We feel that Limerick has changed a lot, for the better. There are more options. There is an event every night of the week to attend, activities for the children, all year long. Great coffee everywhere! Third level education. All in our doorstep. Supportive, curious and open minded people. The 7 of us fit in perfectly!”
Speaking about the bid Angie is optimistic no matter what the outcome. “The city will continue to grow with or without winning 2020 European City of Culture. But if it does, there will be a quicker transition, more of everything and a celebratory atmosphere and mood to live in.”