• Artist in Residence


  • BA, Western New England College, 1975
  • MA, Oberlin College, 2000


Artist-in-Residence of Africana Studies. She received her BA in sociology from Western New England College and the MA in sociology at Oberlin College. Ms. Sharpley has been a dance instructor, culturalist, dance performer, and choreographer. Ms. Sharpley has been the choreographer for several Oberlin productions and offers courses in African and African American dance. She is the founder and director of Dance Diaspora, a semi-professional touring West African Dance Ensemble. She teaches the following courses: West African Dance I, II, and III, African-American Dance History, two performance classes: Dance Diaspora in the fall and Essence Dance in the spring, and Ritual and Performance I, II, and III.

Ms. Sharpley has studied in Cleveland with Elaine Gibbs and Margaret Christian and with Bill MacKay of Spelman College. She has also worked with famed West African drummer Babatunde Olantunji, Cuban dancer Juanita Barro, the National Bahamian Dance Company, and noted dancer/choreographer Katherine Dunham.

Ms. Sharpley was nurtured by dance teachers from the Cleveland community who stressed the holistic approach to dance that is grounded in one’s community; She continues this philosophy of dance through Dance Diaspora and her efforts in community service, community building, and community arts. Diaspora does prison outreach, community outreach, and has traveled to The Gambia, Nigeria, Cuba, Brazil, and Puerto Rico.

Dance Diaspora Mission Statement

Dance Diaspora’s mission is to maintain traditional West African Dance forms and other African Diasporic forms by acknowledging the spirituality, philosophy, and diversity of African Culture and its global presence. Dance Diaspora functions at the level of a semi-professional group that serves two main communities. It provides students with the opportunity to perform on-campus and it also serves the greater African and African American community through off-campus performance venues. Dance Diaspora was formed to provide the Africana student community with the opportunity to develop their art and cultural performance skills using an interdisciplinary model from the pedagogy of where it was housed, the Africana Studies Department, Oberlin College. It evolved from the Essence class to the Essence Ensemble, all which gave way to the formation of Dance Diaspora in 1992. It was later cross-listed and became a part of the Theater and Dance Department as well. Dance Diaspora in many ways became a vehicle to gain access to organized premier dance venues on Oberlin’s campus, such as Main Space and occasionally Hall Auditorium.

Faculty Notes

  • Dance Department Awards and Recognition

    May 16, 2016

    Professor of Dance and Department Chair Ann Cooper Albright and Assistant Professor of Dance Holly Handman-Lopez each received Individual Excellence Awards from the Ohio Arts Council. The Dance Department and Dance Disapora, directed by Artist in Residence Adenike Sharpley, were recognized by the Bonner Center for Service and Learning for their ongoing service to the Oberlin community. In addition, the community-based programs Girls and Boys in Motion and Dance Diaspora were the focus of an article in the May edition of Dance Magazine entitled “Dance to Give Back.”


African Art Gets New Home

February 8, 2017
The Allen Memorial Art Museum has 107 African art objects in its collection. With the opening on February 2, 25 objects are now on view. The installation was curated by students in the fall 2016 seminar, African Art in Museums: From Collection to Display.

Happy Feet Hit Warner Main Space

March 11, 2016
Donnay Edmund (center) performs in Warner Main Space for her senior honors show, “From Guinea to Brooklyn: The Journey of my Happy Feet.” Under the direction of Artist-in-Residence in...