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Mendhi hands by Pushpa Jain. Photographer unknown. All rights reserved.Fish decoy. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong. All rights reserved.Embroidered dress detail. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong. All rights reserved.Cedar bird by Glen VanAntwerp. Photo by Al Kamuda. All rights reserved.
Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Awards


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Christine Ingabire and Grace Johnson
2017 master artist and apprentice
Grand Rapids (Kent County)
Rwandan traditional dance


Christine Ingabire grew up in Rwanda, where she participated in dance clubs in school and performed regularly at community events. She and her family fled the Rwandan genocide in 1994 and were resettled in Grand Rapids in 2000. While a single parent, Christine earned an associate of arts degree from Grand Rapids Community College and is now completing her bachelor’s degree in social work from Spring Arbor University. Christine reflects, “Fleeing my home country and settling in a new country has not been an easy journey. But keeping up the art form of my home country’s traditional dance has been a wonderful central part of my life.” In 2010, Christine formed Uruyange Dance Group, which has been instrumental in bringing together the large Rwandan community in West Michigan. The group often performs at universities, open houses, church functions, and weddings, as it is the only group of its kind in the area.

Grace Johnson was born in Rwanda and moved to the United Stated at age 4. She has been a member of Uruyange since its inception. Participation in the group has helped her to preserve her Rwandan identity and to connect with a larger community. As Grace says, “I am American but I am also Rwandan.” She hopes to not only improve her individual dance skills, but also learn to lead larger groups in choreography.

-Micah Ling


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