A 30 year veteran of Polynesian cultural studies, Mapuana Beauregard is the hula instructor of Halau Hula Alohalani, based in Columbia, SC. Living and studying in Hawaii for the past 15 years, she honed her knowledge and skills as a highly talented professional in Hawaiian arts, including hula, Hawaiian crafts, language, and many more aspects of Hawaiian culture. She leads the Hawaiiana in Columbia MeetUp group. More information about hula for men, women and children can be reviewed at http://hhalohalani.wixsite.com/alohalani-hula.
Spanish-born Maria-Palacio began dancing at a young age with ballet and jazz. Her passion for dance grew into other styles including flamenco and traditional latin dances. In 2003 she started her career as a belly dancer focusing on Oriental/Folkloric, Tribal Fusion and American Tribal Style, and becoming an FCBD Sister Studio and an ATS Certified instructor in 2011 with 25 hours of continuing ed in 2015.
Mexican-born Jose Maria Gutierrez began his Mexican Folk Dance career at age 12. He performed regularly for 10 years in Mexico with "Casa de la Cultura," also serving as Assistant Director of this group. After graduating college with a degree in Phys. Ed., he taught Folk Dance at elementary and secondary schools in his native country. Since moving to SC in 1998, he has been teaching the Hispanic community in Columbia the art of Mexican Folk Dance, leading his group of children and adults in performances throughout the state.
Spanish-born, Marissa McDonald (stage name Rissa Nefer), began her love for belly dancing during two trips to Egypt. She danced at the Munique Neith Academy in Barcelona for 4 years, learning different Egyptian styles as well as dance with candles, veil, stick, etc. and received her teacher's license there. She also dances Flamenco.
Marissa also provides invaluable help with Emerald's website and graphic design for flyers. Her talented husband, Gavin McDonald, is Emerald's official photographer.
Harby Gonzalez is Emerald's Artistic Director and Main Instructor. He is a native of Colombia, South America and a graduate of the National School of Argentine Tango, Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has been dancing Argentine Tango since the age of 12 and started performing professionally at the age of 18. Harby has toured and performed in several Tango productions around the world, including “Bajo el ala del Sombrero”, directed by Roberto Erbin. He has also performed with Mariano Mores, one of the best known Tango Orchestras in the world. Harby was a dancer for the Washington based orchestra Quintango with which he toured performing throughout the USA and abroad.
Some of their collaboration includes a seven year run at the Spoleto festival, performing with the National Symphony Orquestra at George Washington theater and a Tango cruise through South America, to name a few. Harby has been teaching and performing in the United States since 1995 when he brought Argentine Tango to much of the southeastern region.
Russian born and educated, ballet dancer Julia Moiseeva performed with the Moscow Festival Ballet and the Kremlin Ballet Company in her native land. Since moving to the US, she has taught ballet at U. of South Carolina and at universities and studios in Ohio and Tennessee. Julia has participated in international ballet tours to France, Italy, Norway, Austria, China, Mexico, Taiwan and the US. As a choreographer, she has staged several ballets including “Nutcracker”, “Cinderella”, “Snow Maiden”, “Sleeping Beauty”, “Swan Lake”.
Kim Wilson grew up in the very small town of Mill Creek, WV where the only place to dance was at the nearby YMCA. Prior to moving to SC and joining the dance world, Kim established the Virginia Tech Center for Economic Education. In 2009, Kim was involved as co-owner and manager in the procurement of Iceland, USA by Plex Indoor Sports. At the end of 2016, Kim will be certified to give instruction in Bones for Life. Originally designed to halt and even reverse the deterioration of bone tissue, the program uses mindful exploration, pressure, rhythm, and vibration with focus on body alignment and organization. Kim assists Barb and Nisha in day-to-day activities at Emerald as needed.
Jeremy Webb began Shag dancing when he was 12 years old. He is a three-time National Shag Dance Champion in the junior division, a two-time Junior Champion at the Grand National Dance Championships and has participated in many exciting competitions around the country at different West Coast Swing events. In addition to his career as a competitive dancer, he enjoys giving dance lessons and organizing dance events.
Ramon Gil, a Puerto Rican raised on the “Enchanted Island,” has been teaching Salsa and Bachata since 2003 to people of all ages at Columbia's Lourie Center, and he organized Columbia’s 1st Salsa Social at that venue in 2009. He participates/performs in Salsa Invitational and Congress events in the Southeast, is involved with Hispanic cultural/charitable events, and has taught Latin dances in SC and NC to adults and children. He created in 2012 and continues to teach/host a successful combination event entitled: "Salsa Class with Practice Party" at The Woody's Nightclub. He also was a host for the Salsa Social and a Salsa Instructor at Emerald during the opening year of 2013, and often serves as DJ at Emerald.
Emerald's owners, Barb and Nisha (Kuniharu) Kubodera, opened Emerald in 2012 with the goals of sharing their love of dance and of supporting the arts community in Columbia. After retiring from teaching careers of over 40 years -- at U. of South Carolina and abroad, Barb in ESL and Nisha in Physics -- the Kuboderas can now concentrate on overseeing the running of Emerald and on encouraging dancers young and old.
Ann Kent has been on the faculty of the Columbia Ballet School for over 25 years, teaching ballet classes for children as well as adults. She also serves as Assistant Director for the school's ballet company, and in this capacity she choreographs and stages both original and classical ballet works. A lover of yoga as well, Ann enjoys working with Emerald Ballroom's students on increasing their flexibility and strength in a variety of ways.
Marcia Mitchell is a professionally certified ballroom dance teacher through Dance Vision International Dance Association (DVIDA) and is a member of the National Dance Council of America (NDCA). She is also the owner of Revolution Ballroom in Beaufort, SC. Since 1998 she has enjoyed dancing competitively throughout the United States, and she is a sought-after instructor and performer. Marcia is an energetic, knowledgeable, and very patient instructor, and she loves sharing her passion for dance with all her students.
Gene Reed has been studying tango under the mentorship of Harby Gonzalez since age 19 and has taken many workshops with other tango masters and developed his own style. He has been teaching that dance in Columbia and other parts of the Southeastern US since 2008. He performed at Piccolo Spoleto in 2007 and has performed at many other venues in the Southeast. Since 2006, he has been co-artistic director each year of Celestial Stars’ Christmas Angel Ballet Production in Columbia. Currently at Emerald he teaches Nuevo Tango and is one of Harby’s performance partners.