Cherry Hill, NJ – Klio Kokolis loves Greek Dancing. How much you ask? Well, for 40 plus years, she has been the Director of Dance for the Hellenic Heritage Dance group of St. Thomas Greek Orthodox church in Cherry Hill. Last winter, the Hellenic Heritage Dance celebrated this momentous occasion that brought together three generations of dancers from their church. Her own children, now adults and grandchildren came out for the evening that marked a point in the history, for the church, the dance group and her own life.
Arriving in Cherry Hill in 1965, from Kefalonia, Greece where she was born, she joined the would be church right away, even before it was actually built. She started out, volunteering to help organize the dance group through it’s first performances in 1974. Assisting Kathy Sembekos (also a member of St. Thomas) for a Greek Independence Day parade performance, she quickly took on the duty of first Director of Dance of the Hellenic Heritage Dance Group.
Now some 40 years later, she has mastered more than 300 different Greek dances; and is arguable the best dance teacher of Greek Folk dance in the Delaware Valley. Each year Kokolis attends seminars in Greece with the best dance instructors known in Greek folk dance. She also brings back hand made original dance costumes to add to the Heritages library of traditional Greek folk attire.
Her students and students students are dedicated members of the Hellenic Heritage Dance group. Even though they move on usually after high school some return for special performances. This past year, several of them even left college to return to dance for the weekend at their annual festival, before returning right back to school the next day. Kokolis and the Heritage Dance group have danced in Cuba for the Patriarch, when the first Greek Orthodox church opened a few years ago, and have even achieved nationally recognition at Greek folk dance contests. On any given Thursday night, you can see Kokolis and the Hellenic Heritage dance group working on their latest performance at St. Thomas Greek Orthodox church.