Rocco dances into Cockburn's WA Day history

Rocco Zagari has taught hundreds of local seniors how to dance their cares away in the past decade, passing on his love for the healthy fun activity with patience, passion and pizzazz.

The volunteer Ballroom, Modern Latin and New Vogue dance instructor has been named the 2022 recipient of the City of Cockburn WA Day Award at the City’s 50th annual Pioneers Luncheon.

Born in Italy, Mr Zagari has lived in Cockburn for 60 years after arriving in WA with his parents about 66 years ago as a 10-year-old. His parents ran a market garden in Spearwood for a decade when he was a youngster.

He was nominated by Cockburn Seniors Centre Coordinator Julie McDonald who said Mr Zagari had the experience and patience to support seniors with their dancing lessons, especially beginners.

Mr Zagari initially supported the Centre’s well-respected local dancing instructor, Shirley Bickley (dec), for several years, stepping in to teach Ballroom beginners after her retirement.

A former student of Ms Bickley, learning his craft from her as a student after taking his first lessons in his 30s, Mr Zagari is joined at the Centre by fellow volunteers Christine Cooper and Peter Fallon who teach the popular Social Dance classes.

“Volunteering is good for the soul. Living in the community for 60 years, Rocco wanted to give back to local Seniors and teach them new skills to live a full and active life,” Mrs McDonald said.   

“He is proof we are never too old to teach and learn new things.”

Rocco is also a mentor supporting children at South Coogee Primary school, a role he has been committed to for the past seven years.
Presenting the award at today’s luncheon, Mayor Logan Howlett said Mr Zagari’s weekly lessons had been a highlight for many Cockburn’s Seniors Centre members for many years.

“Dedicated volunteers are what helps the Centre provide important social enrichment for local seniors,” Mayor Howlett said.

“The waiting list for activities and memberships speaks volumes for their popularity and the Centre’s general regard in our community.

“Rocco is very well known locally and he is an important part of the fabric of the Cockburn community.”         

In the past two years, the annual Pioneers Luncheon has been held over two weeks as a community health safeguard in response to the pandemic. This year, luncheons held on 3 and 10 June have been attended by more than 300 guests.

Search for a local volunteer role online at or chat with a Volunteer Resource Centre staff member by calling 08 9411 3490 or send an email to [email protected]

Caption: L-r Mayor Logan Howlett, Rocco Zagari and award nominator Julie McDonald.

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City of Cockburn
Whadjuk Boodja
9 Coleville Crescent,
Spearwood 6163

PO Box 1215, Bibra Lake DC,
Western Australia, 6965

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Cockburn Nyungar moort Beeliar boodja-k kaadadjiny. Koora, yeyi, benang baalap nidja boodja-k kaaradjiny.
Ngalak kaadatj dayin boodja, kep wer malayin. Ngalak kaadatj koora koora wer yeyi ngalang birdiya.

City of Cockburn acknowledges the Nyungar people of Beeliar boodja. Long ago, now and in the future they care for Country.
We acknowledge a continuing connection to land, waters and culture and pay our respects to the Elders, past and present.