Zulfeta Rizvic

Bosnian folk dance teacher
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K.U.D. KoloZulfeta Rizvic and her family were among the first Bosnians to settle in Waterloo 1996. By 2005, the community had grown to 4,000. Born in Velika Kladusa, near the Croatian border in the former Yugoslavia, Rizvic was an elementary school teacher in her homeland. She was also a folk dancer in a place where “dancers were ambassadors for their culture."

That life ended when the wars broke out and Zulfeta, her family, and other Bosnian Muslims were forced to flee to refugee camps and then to seek asylum elsewhere. Once in Waterloo, she and her husband, also a teacher, were hired as language interpreters by the schools. She also started the Bosnian dance troupe, Kolo, which means circle or to dance, in order to pass her love of dance and culture on to children who were too young to remember their own when they moved to the U.S.

A 2004 winner of the Cedar Valley Mayors’ Volunteer Award, Zulfeta started K.U.D. Kolo, Waterloo’s Bosnian Dance Troupe to give the children at Elk Run Elementary School something to do to keep their minds off the war. She soon opened up the group to any students in middle and high schools and now has more than 60 students involved from first to 12th grades as well as college students. The dances performed by the group hail from several countries in the former Yugoslavia, representing each of the troupe member's homelands and cultures — Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Albania, Macedonia, and Croatia. Zulfeta has volunteered her time and money to coordinate the dance troupe for over six years.

In 2004, the Iowa Arts Council awarded her a Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grant to continue her work with Sefika Sarkic, K.U.D. Kolo’s assistant director and costume maker/coordinator. With more than 60 participants and several countries to represent, Sarkic says creating the costumes can be costly and time-consuming, but the parents “believe it is important to keep our children informed about our culture and our language," Sarkic says. "We all the time speak our language here so we can keep in touch with it."

K.U.D. Kolo performed at the 15th Anniversary of Bosnian settlement in Iowa and at a variety of events around the state, including the Iowa Culture and Language Conference and the Midwest Folk Fest. K.U.D. Kolo was also featured at Kraiski Teferic, a celebration of Bosnian culture and community, held in Ft.Wayne, Indiana (2003), Chicago (2004), and Waterloo (2005). Zulfeta was one Kraiski Terferic’s organizers in Waterloo.

Contact: Zulfeta Rizvic, Waterloo, IA, (home) 319.234.6547, (cell) 419. 404.1429, vkl593@yahoo.com.