The Passing of a Beloved Teaching Artist

2014 Festa-127It is with a heavy heart that Arts Corps shares the tragic news of master dancer and teaching artist Abdoulaye Sylla, who passed suddenly of a heart attack on July 23rd while teaching a residency in California. Abdoulaye embodied music and light. He taught his students about empowerment, persistence, collaboration and joy. He inspired us all and we will forever miss his infectious laugh and his kind smile.

Arts Corps is supporting family-led efforts to bring Abdoulaye back to Guinea for an African burial. Please consider donating to this Go Fund Me campaign and please share this information for even greater reach.


Abdoulaye Sylla was a master dancer and drummer from Guinea, W. Africa, who delighted everyone with his energetic style and infectious smile. He grew up winning numerous dance competitions in and behalf of his country. Abdoulaye performed around the globe with Les Ballets Africains, Guinea’s national dance troupe that is considered the best traditional African performing group in the world, and with the award-winning Les Merveilles D’Afrique. He performed and taught traditional dance and percussion at hundreds of venues throughout Africa, Europe, and the Americas.

1907640_10152139527535098_3083577127732814220_nIn 1994 Abdoulaye relocated to Connecticut where he was co-owner/Artistic Director of One World Arts Exchange. While there he was an adjunct professor at Trinity College and a Master Teaching/Performing Artist with the CT Arts Commission, where he was an instructor in their Higher Order Thinking (HOT) schools program and their Cultural Tapestries school diversity program. He moved to Seattle in 2009 where he led performing groups Message From Guinea and African Connection and performed with numerous groups, including Juno award-winning Alpha Yaya Diallo, Maya Soleil, Adefua, and others. He was on the WASAC teaching artist roster, and worked with Arts Corps, Powerful Schools and Creative Advantage.

Abdoulaye, we will miss you greatly.

One thought on “The Passing of a Beloved Teaching Artist

  1. I’m broken hearted to learn of this. I’m trying to understand this and it’s really hard. We were going through so much when my son joined his class. He was so loving and gracious and defended my son when anyone would treat him different. He welcomed me and my girls and let us help every week. He made me love service. He helped me see amazing things happen with Arts Corps, my life is forever changed. Please let me know when a service will be held, it is very important to me that we are able to say our goodbyes.

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