Marilyn M. Sylla

West African Dance

Marilyn M. Sylla is Director of The Bamidele Dancers & Drummers and a Five College Dance Lecturer based at Smith College. In this capacity she teaches African, Brazilian and Haitian dance forms. She has studied African dance forms in Guinea, Senegal, the Gambia, the Casamance, Brazil, Haiti and Puerto Rico. Since 1987 she has taught and performed throughout the United States at venues including Jacobs Pillow, the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York and Kripalu Center for holistic health in Lee Mass. She has been in residence at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama; Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY; and Ursinus College, in Collegeville, PA. In addition, she has taught several times at the Bates College Dance Festival in Lewiston, Maine; for six years at Drika Overton's Portsmouth Percussive Dance Festival and is a teaching artist with the Sankofa Dance Project at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA. Marilyn has also taught West African dance at the Universidade Federal da Bahia in Bahia, Brazil and recently (April 2009) returned from a performing and teaching tour in Caguas, Guayama and Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Marilyn studied Haitian Folkloric dance and taught West African dance in Port Au Prince, Haiti at the Ecole National Des Arts and in Mirebelais, Haiti at the Centre Cultural Alexandre Kenskoff. She has also performed at the Theatre Nationale' in Port-au-Prince, Haiti with Ballet Folklorique Tamboula DHaiti, Inc. In 1998 she received an award from the University of Massachusetts for "Outstanding Support to Women of Color." In March 2007 Marilyn received a "Finer Womanhood" Award from the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. at the UMass. Marilyn is a board member of A Better Chance Program, in Amherst, MA.