• Liz Moore

Ibutwa and the Moore Dance Company

I became involved with the Vermont Ibutwa Initiative years ago. My daughter and I went to hear founder Cleophace Mukeba speak to the youth group at First Congregational Church (FCC) in Burlington Vt. I wondered how the content would be presented. How would Cleophace tell the story of the Congo in a way that was not overwhelming, or leave us with a numb sense helplessness.

 The talk was moving, inspirational, factual and yes sometimes horribly sad; but we all were left feeling that we too could make a difference. Cleophace’s own life showed us the power of drive and determination; faith in times of heartache and hardship. Ibutwa was created with this kind of energy and drive.

 It was created as a place of refuge for woman in the Congo who are victims of the war and power struggles that exist in this mineral rich land,(the cell phones that we all love and depend on, rely on minerals from the Congo.) Ibutwa provides health care, counseling and education for the refugee women who reside there; it is a fully holistic approach. Ibutwa gives hope and a foundation to build a life.

 Cleophace talked about staying out of politics;  he chose to concentrate on something he could control. This resonated with me. It is so easy to become angry over the divisive nature of our political world, how refreshing to just step away from the negative and build a positive. My daughter Beth and I left inspired. At the time she was a gifted high school musician, and I was teaching at Spotlight Vt. We decided to pool out talents and put together a music and dance show performed in the sunlit upper room of FCC. To our happy surprise, it was a big success. We were asked to do an encore, which we did, and that too was a wonderful experience.

And then life happens. Children grow up and leave home; old dancer bodies get injured. But life is funny, and comes full circle.

Coming back from a long period of injury and serious life changes, I realized I had a crop of lovely young dancers, as well as beautiful and talented adults. The idea of a performing company started to form.

Ibutwa is the Congolese word for Renaissance. It is not an exaggeration to say that I needed a time of Renaissance; a new purpose and meaning for my life. I contacted Ibutwa and asked if they would like a dance performance, one with primarily young dancers. The answer was a resounding and fervent yes. So once again, I found myself with dancers at FCC. We called it Dance for Hope, and it was simply wonderful. Since that first performance with these new dancers, we have done a Spotlight Vt scholarship fundraiser performance , and an encore of Dance for Hope;  we performed a company piece at our Spotlight recital, and felt like we had turned a corner and needed to move forward.

 We have now formalized everything. We have recently become Moore Dance Company, (MDC),sponsored by Spotlight Vt, and helped greatly by FCC with performing and occasional rehearsal space. Forming MDC has been even more of a Renaissance than I could have imagined. The work ethic of my dancers has been incredible; more incredible has been  their love and open hearts for me, each other, and the causes they are dancing for. They are dancers who want to make a difference in the world, and I, as the creative head of the company , hope to keep creating work that will speak to others and help open hearts to the organizations we are representing.

I hope that MDC and Ibutwa work together for a long time. I am humbled and grateful that my love of dance can help the lives of others more  vulnerable than me.  I strongly believe that we are all connected, and that we can all be bridges for good. I am so grateful for the work of Ibutwa and our chance to be of service for those women and children who need their own time of Renaissance.

Take a look at our Performance Schedule so that you can attend and help us support Ibutwa!

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