Meet Our 2024 Teachers

Yves Moreau

Roberto Bagnoli

Specialty: Italian
Range: Italian, international

Roberto Bagnoli grew up in Rome, Italy. He was 28 and was attending a summer work camp and in the same building where there was a residential workshop of Israeli dances. One evening he went to see what it was all about and was hooked. When he came back to Rome, he spent six months before he was able to attend a class of folk dancing, but he did finally find it. A couple of years after he started dancing, Roberto started to help his teacher at the Jewish Community Center (JCC), teaching some dances and at the same time started his first Israeli dance group.

Roberto is a biologist. He spent one year in Africa in a National Park leading a group of italian group of zoologists, doing research on wild animals, but after that he came back to Italy and couldn’t find any open position for his job skills. So he started to work on a computer company, for two years, but that wasn’t to his liking. So when they fired him, he was so happy and began to make a living with teaching dance.

In Italy, they call the University degree Laurea in Biology. But his specialization was in zoology. Because they don’t have in Italy anything similar to the PhD. (Maybe you could call him a Zoologist! Maybe an ‘advanced degree’ would be the closest.)

Roberto was first introduced to folk music and dance in Rome, eventually taking part in several performances and teaching dance classes. He subsequently studied various forms of folk dance in workshops throughout Europe, Israel, and North America under the guidance of renowned choreographers and teachers.

Roberto now lives in Reggio Emilia in Northern Italy, considered to have one of the most important dance communities in Italy.

From 1995 to 2003, he performed as a dancer and choreographer with the Terra di Danza Dance Company and was involved in the production of Raggi di luna Italiana and Capriccio Italiano (Italian dances), GiroGiroMondo (dances from around the world), Keltic Emotion (Celtic dances), Mazal Tov (Israeli dances), and Ethnos (international folk dances). He is the founder of Folk Atelier Reggio Emilia (FARE), devoted to the development and conservation of folk dance heritage.

As director of FARE, he is in charge of organizing and conducting folk dance classes, workshops with Italian and foreign specialists, and of the performing sector, staging various performances, parties, and dance gatherings.

In recent years, he has organized some of the most important annual folk dance events in Italy, such as, Balkanot Israeli and Balkan Dance Camp, Maratona di Danza folk dance marathon, and Camp Yofi Israeli Dance Camp in Lago di Garda. He has completed the training program in Folk Dance Teaching led by Jan Knoppers from the National Dance Academy of Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Roberto teaches weekly classes in various cities in the North of Italy and conducts monthly sessions in Rome and Milan besides conducting workshops and seminars throughout Europe, the United States (notably the Stockton Folk Dance Camp), and Canada.

Dances Roberto has taught include Ballo in Dodici, Bssanello, Cntradanza, Courento, Do Pasi, Falsa Moneda, Galoppa, Giga, Hora din Moldava, Joj Rado Joj Radmila, Jota Revolvedera, Mazurka di Sant’ Andieu, Mazurka sor Cesare, Mineco, Passu Torrau, Saltarello, Sbrando, Scottis, Sor Cesare, Spagnoletto, Su Ballito, Su Dillo, Syrtos Kitrinou, Tarantella Bim Bom Ba, Tresso, Tu Romnie, Tumankuqe, Vajta n’Elbasan, and Valle e Mesme.

Aaron Alpert

Gergana Panova-Tekath

Specialty: Bulgarian
Range: Bulgarian

Dr. Gergana Panova-Tekath was born in Sofia, Bulgaria. From 1988 to 1993, she danced with the Filip Kutev Bulgarian National Folk Ensemble. She studied dance ethnology in Bulgaria and obtained her Ph.D. in dance from Dortmund University (Germany).

She regularly commutes between Bulgaria, where she heads the Ethnochoreology Department at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, and Germany, where she is Professor of Dance at Folkwang University in Essen.

She has published numerous articles and has written two books on various aspects of Bulgarian traditional dance. Besides organizing annual summer seminars in Bulgaria, Gergana has taught workshops in many countries: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Israel, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium, Brazil, Argentina and the United States.

She graduated in Dance Pedagogy, Ethnochoreology, Choreography and Direction (Bulgaria), and Kinetography and Communicative Sciences (Germany) and has completed a Doctorate with “Summa cum laude” and awarded the prize “Dissertation 2004” from the Technical University of Dortmund (Germany) in the area of Cultural Philosophy. The title of her thesis is “Dance after Perestroika. The Communication between Eastern and Western Europe through the Bulgarian Folkdances.” Gergana qualified in Ethnochoreology and Communication in 2011 in Sofia.

She performed as a solo dancer and choreographer at the National Ensemble for Folksongs and Folkdances (Philip Koutev) in Sofia from 1988 to 1994, was a Choreographer for different Bulgarian and international Theater Projects, was a Senior Fellow and Associate Professor for Ethnochoreology at the Institute for Art Studies at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in Sofia, and has lectured at the Technical University of Dortmund, the Humboldt University, Berlin, the University in Zurich, the University of Music, Vienna, and the New Bulgarian University, Sofia.

Starting in 1994, she has conducted over 300 seminars and summer academies in folk dances in Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Israel, Japan, Norway, Switzerland, and the United States.

Gergana has published over 50 Articles and two books about dancing, nonverbal communication, ethnology, etcetera in Bulgarian, German, English, and Russian.

Aaron Alpert

Melanie Lawson Kareem

Sing-alongs and ukulele jamming

Returning to The Laguna Folk Dance Festival, Melanie Lawson Kareem, a folk dancer since childhood, shares her lifetime of enjoying music with others by teaching ukulele on Zoom, everyday. She is well-known in the folk dance world as “The Folk Dancer’s Ukulele Teacher” having taught at Stockton Camp since 2019.

Her 45+ years of developing inspirational methods for teaching dance shaped her innovative “Melanie Method” for teaching the ukulele. The Zoom classes are specifically designed for older adults, with easy to read song sheets and a selection of well-loved songs from our favorite eras. Students with no previous musical experience catch on quickly and have become musicians.

The warm community-bonding experience on Zoom with “classmates” the world over fosters camaraderie, which grows into a “Life-Style” of daily ukulele joy. Especially meaningful are the “in-person reunions” such as The Laguna Folk Dance Festival. We welcome all new players!

Melanie Lawson Kareem is the Founder and Creative Director of a daily Zoom class. In Mid-March 2023 a total of 1,000 Zoom classes will have been taught since the pandemic!

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24112 Moulton Pkwy
Laguna Woods CA 92637 USA

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