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A scene from Sherri's original ballet, Jane Eyre.

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For Love of the Arts

Sherri Davis uses her heart for the arts to create, educate and advocate for the creative arts and artists.

Dance cast a spell on a young Sherri Davis that has never been broken. During her career as an artist, educator and advocate, her passion for the creative arts has continued to grow. Something inside an 8-year-old Sherri said, “I need to do that” as she watched the Houston Ballet perform Swan Lake. Her mom signed her up for classes at Mississippi Ballet Theatre in Jackson where she fell in love with dance and studied drama.  Her drama coach was James Best, remembered for his role as The Dukes of Hazard’s Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane. “All that experience of dance and acting came at a rush at a young age,” she said. After a family move to a North Carolina town without a quality dance program, she commuted to a college where her ballet barre was the back of a chair and guest teacher, Patricia Sorrell of Norfolk, Va., taught her once a week. Sorrell told Sherri’s parents, “This child needs to come to Virginia because she’s talented.”

At 13, Sherri accepted a full residential scholarship to study at the Tidewater Ballet Association, now Virginia Ballet Theatre.  “As soon as I started dance and got into it, I was serious,” Sherri said. “I didn’t waver from that. My dance experience as a young child molded me completely as I am today.  I literally was attached to very professional, high-level people. That’s why I have the vision that I do because I don’t know anything else.” Training and performance with prestigious ballet companies carried Sherri to many places in her early career, including Atlanta.  Although she had no thoughts of becoming a full-time dance educator, after settling in Fayette County she realized educating others and choreography were her greatest gifts.

In 1990 she opened Georgia Academy of Dance and the Performing Arts and established Georgia Dance Theatre, which provides scholarships and performance opportunities, and features professionals from throughout the United States. Sherri has educated and mentored many dancers toward professional careers.  She has also written and produced an original ballet, The Growing Up of Annabelle Potts, and created ballets from classics such as The Three Musketeers, West Side Story, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Jane Eyre in addition to 32 seasons of contemporary and early childhood productions. GAD’s productions of The Nutcracker Ballet and interactive Nutcracker Tea have become a local Christmas tradition.    

Sherri’s artistic vision has operated within the confines of a successful business garnering commendations from local chambers of commerce, the Georgia Council of the Arts, and the National Endowment of the Arts. She credits GAD’s excellence in arts education and presentation to the support of family, individuals, and local businesses. In 2019 Sherri formed the non-profit Arts Council of Fayette County as an additional platform for local artists of all genres.  “There are plenty of meetings for those in business, but we don’t have that for the arts,” she said. “Many artists work in isolation as is part of the creative process. I would like to expand the Arts Council’s efforts to assist with the needs of interested artists.” With support from the Atlanta Opera, Atlanta Symphony, High Museum, the Alliance Theatre, and local arts patrons, ACFC hosted its first gala in 2020 to celebrate local artists. “The creatives we featured taught me so much,” Sherri said. “Their passion for creating their art, including their efforts at making a living from their art fueled my passion even more to celebrate them and offer additional platforms.” Sherri’s dream is for Fayette County to have a professional arts facility for the entire community.  “We are a creative county because of the talent here, but there’s not a professional facility to present that talent,” she said. “Having a hub like that would be amazing and would solidify the county’s ‘Create Your Story’ slogan.” Until then, the Arts Council will continue celebrating, assisting, and introducing new artists.  “Artists always need to connect and become a bigger voice,” she said. Another gala is planned for February 2023.

Despite her accomplishments, Sherri isn’t looking back. “I want to keep looking forward,” she said. “I’m excited about the future and hope to continue to educate, celebrate and nurture the arts in our community and beyond.”

For more information about GAD or ACFC, visit www.gadance.com or www.artscouncilfayette.com.

  • Sherri Davis has been commended as a dance educator and as a business woman.
  • A scene from Sherri's original ballet, Hunchback of Notre Dame.
  • A GAD company member performs. a contemporary dance.
  • A scene from Sherri's original ballet, Jane Eyre.
  • GDT alumna, Megan Johnson
  • GDT alumna, beautiful in red
  • Alison Caspersen, current GDT Pro member
  • GDT alumna Hayley Keir