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Sherry Cochran was always a dancer but truly found her passion in a folk dance class at the University of Arizona in 1968. She soon became an avid folk dancer, teacher, and performer.
After moving to Los Angeles, largely because of the active folk dance scene and the friends she had made at camps, Sherry soon found herself teaching five or six nights a week at coffeehouses and local recreational groups. Her humor, energy, attention to styling, and accessible teaching style made her a popular dance instructor at clubs such as Café Danssa, Calliópe's, Horo, the Intersection, Narodni, Open Circle, and Veselo Selo. She has taught at folk dance camps and festivals including the Berkeley Festival, California Traditional Music Society (CTMS) Summer Solstice Festival, Camp Hess Kramer, Equinox Festival, Folk Dance Federation of California's Treasurer's Ball, Idyllwild Folk Dance Camp, and Ojai Festival, and has been a teaching partner for master teachers Jaś Dziewanoski, Gene Ciejka, Athan Karras, and others at the California Statewide Festival, Idyllwild Folk Dance Camp, MidAmerica Folkdance Camp, and University of San Diego Folk Dance Conference.
Although she has been teaching international dance for many years, Sherry has become known best as a Balkan dance teacher because she is said to have an extraordinary facility for breaking down the steps and intricate rhythms and also has what is probably the longest running weekly Balkan dance class anywhere, starting in 1976 at the Horo, moving to the Intersection, California Jukebox Club, Café Danssa, Pacific Arts Center, and finally to its current home at the LA Dancefit, recently named Los Angeles' number one dance studio.
Over the years, Sherry has performed with the Folklanders and Interlandia Dancers in Tucson, Polskie Iskrie, and her own ensemble Biljana in Los Angeles. She has served on committees and boards, including the AMAN Folk Ensemble Board of Directors and the Idyllwild, San Diego, and Santa Barbara Folk Dance Conference Camp Committees. She envisioned and was director of the Los Angeles Folkdance Extravaganza (L.I.F.E.), the first all live music and dance camp in southern California. She also was instrumental in producing all of the Intersection Reunions. Always working hard to promote folk dancing and live music, she has hosted many visiting teachers and musicians, organized events, mentored new dance teachers, and filmed and professionally edited videotapes for dance events. She is very proud of being a truly kick-ass disk jockey.
Sherry continues to guest teach at local groups including Café AMAN, Narodni, and CalTech and taught at the world premier of Brasslands at the Los Angeles Film Festival. You can find her weekly at Friday Night L.I.F.E. in West Los Angeles, where she teaches and DJs.
Starting immediately after lockdown began due to the pandemic, Sherry started hosting her weekly sessions via Zoom, with nearly 100 attendees every week and guest teachers and leaders from around the world, while also doing guest spots at other Zoom events.
During this time, she was also recruited to work on most of the big online events including Texa-Kolo, World Spring Camp, Stockton online, NFO conferences and workshops, Skandia Camp, Yannis Konstantinou New Years' Glendi from Greece, and others doing advertising and backstage tech, continuing to support her dance community and expand her skills set.
She was one of the very first leaders to start hosting Hybrid dance sessions, in person and via Zoom, with workable Covid policies. She brought her new skills in-person to Texa-Kolo 2021 and 2022, doing advertising, organization, and on-site tech tor their Hybrid setup.
Friday Night L.I.F.E. has now been safely hybrid since July 15, 2021 and hosts weekly sessions and in-studio workshops and live music broadcast via Zoom with online attendees projected onto a 135inch screen. There are three to four camera views, music and microphones mixed and broadcast for optimal sound and video. Attendees in-person and on-line can interact. Master Teachers and multiple dance leaders can also be Zoomed in so that studio attendees can dance with them. We feel that hybrid events are here to stay and continue to improve the technology to support them.
On 1/22/2023, Sherry hosts a panel for the NFO F.O.L.K. Chats entitiled "Tips and Tricks for Hybrid Events." It is an exciting time when we all help and support each other. The sense of community has never been stronger.
Sherry has taught thousands of dancers over the years and a few of the many dances she has taught and continues to teach include Abdala, Ali Ali, At Va'ani, Bistrichka Kopanica, Čerkeska, Cigánytánc, Čekurjankino Horo, Daichovo Horo, Devolliče, Gaida, Godečki Čačak, Gulli, Helef, Highlife, Izručanka, Kasapsko Horo, Kopachkata, Krivo Sadovsko Horo, Ludo Kopano Horo, Maškoto, Milisou, Myatalo Lence, Opas, Ovčepolska, Ovčepolska Osogovska, Pasarelska, Pentozali, Razložko Horo, Sadi Moma, Sheikhani, Siksara, Tresenica, Valle Beratche Korcarë, Žensko Pušteno Oro, and many, many more!
Check out the special events, teaching, and dance videos on the Life Balkan Dancers YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/user/LifeBalkanDancers/videos?view_as=subscriber. You will find teaching videos and other fun stuff posted frequently. Subscribe and hit the bell to be notified of new content. It really helps our videos get to people who might be interested.
Sherry was the Director of Pharmacy at the University of Southern California Medical Plaza and is married to Michael Kirk. For more info: lifebalkandancers.com, Worldance1@g-mail.com