Debonaire Dancers | About Shari Fortino
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About Shari Fortino

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Ms. Shari Claudette Fortino has over 45 years of experience in dance performance, instruction and choreography. Among her many achievements, perhaps the most significant has been carrying the torch left by her father, John Soiu, as she furthers his legacy of both the Debonaire School of Ballroom Dancing and the Debonaire Special Dancers, a social dance program for special needs students. Shari co-narrated a short documentary about the Special Dancers with Jack Lemmon that was nominated for an Academy Award in 1987.

Shari is the former producer, choreographer and co-owner of the Bakersfield Melodrama Theatre. She has collected seemingly unending credits in performance and choreography. She is also the former owner of the Vaudeville Express Singing Telegram Company, performing singing telegrams and vaudeville shows to the delight of Kern County audiences for the past 35 years.

Recently, Shari leads a senior dance and drama group from Rosewood Community that performs regionally. Shari and her husband Michael Smothers write songs and perform together in a folk duet as well as the Bakersfield Swing Time Orchestra and their church band, Spirits on High. She has been a member of the band Chesterfield King for about 30 years, currently performing throughout Kern County and southern California.  Shari currently is teaching in Bakersfield on Monday and Tuesdays and the Central Coast Wednesdays РSunday.

Shari is serving on the Executive Advisory Council for the School of Arts & Humanities at Cal State University, Bakersfield, is the president of Dancers De Classes and Bakersfield Laf-A-Lot Dance Club, and is very honored to be asked to serve on the Advisory Board for the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame.