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Moriah Istre, PhD

Dr. Moriah Istre serves her community in the Acadiana region of South Louisiana as a multilingual folklorist, independent filmmaker, festival programmer, group fitness instructor, and professional dancer, choreographer, and instructor. She established the film company Fleurish Films™, directed and produced the documentary film First Cousins: Cajun and Creole Music in South Louisiana, established her own dance business Moriah Istre Dance™, formed the traveling dance group Louisiana Boot Troupe™, and created an innovative fitness routine called ZydeFit®.

With a passion for languages, Istre earned a Bachelor’s degree in Francophone Studies (French Literature) and minored in Spanish and German in her hometown of Lafayette at the University of Louisiana. Her contributions to the Modern Languages Department earned her several scholarships, including two from CODOFIL (Council for the Development of French in Louisiana) to study abroad at Université Sainte-Anne in Nova Scotia and Université de Mons in Belgium. While working on her Master’s degree in Communication, she served as an instructor and the site director for a study abroad program at Université Laval in Quebec.

Always focusing on culture and music in her research, Istre completed a Doctoral degree in the interdisciplinary Heritage Studies Ph.D. Program at Arkansas State University. While there, she and her colleague and sister Dr. Elista Istre helped to establish Historic Dyess Colony: Johnny Cash Boyhood Home, the heritage site and tourist destination honoring music icon and American legend Johnny Cash. For several years, the sister team worked closely with the Cash family and local residents to preserve, restore, and showcase Cash’s hometown of Dyess, Arkansas. In order to raise funds for the restoration project, Istre cofounded the Johnny Cash Music Festival featuring international acts such as Dierks Bentley, Rosanne Cash, and Willie Nelson, to name a few.

After completing the Cash project and her dissertation on Louisiana music, Istre returned home. Her film First Cousins: Cajun and Creole Music in South Louisiana premiered in a nearly sold out 800-seat auditorium and later aired on LPB/PBS. Appealing to audiences beyond the borders of the Bayou State, this film is now in demand around the country, as well as other French-speaking parts of the world including Nova Scotia, France, Senegal, and the Caribbean Isles.

Istre’s passion for culture matches her enthusiasm for dancing and fitness. Through the founding of Moriah Istre Dance™, the Louisiana Boot Troupe™, and ZydeFit®, Istre supports and contributes to Louisiana’s thriving dance culture and strong fitness community.

Istre continues to embrace many opportunities and enjoys sharing her French Cajun and Creole heritage while immersing herself in a myriad of cultures across the globe. Optimistic about the future, she always holds fast to her favorite Scripture: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

 
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