Thomas Warfield – Inclusion and Diversity in the Performing Arts

RPS Presentation, December 14,  2022-Thomas Warfield- Inclusion and Diversity in the Performing Arts.

Thomas Warfield is an international performing artist. He was born and raised in Rochester, and has lived in 6 countries. He has performed from stage to television to film, in more than 100 cities worldwide; as a singer, dancer, actor, model, composer, choreographer, director, producer, educator, activist and poet. His performances have been a vast variety including the Metropolitan Opera, 17yrs of performances at ’The Yard’ on Martha’s Vineyard, a circus in Japan, giving performances and workshops in three U.S. prisons, a Command Performance for Queen Elizabeth in London, and an east-coast tour of his original project AstroDance – combining dance and astrophysics funded by the National Science Foundation. Thomas has worked with AIDS patients in Thailand, blind students in Taiwan, the homeless in Utah and NYC, inner-city youth in North Carolina and Texas, arts in education programs in Hawaii, Idaho, Wyoming, California and Florida and in 36 other states. He has created his PeaceArt projects in numerous cities in the United States and around the world. He has worked with directors Spike Lee and Franco Zefferelli, composers John Adams and Marvin Hamlisch, scientist Carl Sagan, singers Placido Domingo, Beverly Sills and choreographers Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, Bill T. Jones, Anna Sokolow, Carmen DeLavallade and Irina Nijinska as well as dancing with professional companies in NYC, Hong Kong, Macau, Stockholm, London and others including the companies of Jane Dudley in England and Tandy Beal in California and Hawaii. He has performed with The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Utah Symphony, Gateways Orchestra, among others. His solo concerts in Rennes, France, New York, Tokyo, and numerous other cities have earned him acclaim in newspapers such as The NY Times, the British Morning Star, The French paper Le Monde, Hong Kong Daily Standard, China News and others. For nearly 2 decades he produced the World AIDS Day Benefit Concert in Rochester and other cities raising awareness and thousands of dollars for orphans with HIV/AIDS in 11 countries around the world.
Thomas Warfield has been director of dance in the Department of Performing Arts at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology for 24yrs, and former chair of the President’s Commission on Pluralism and Inclusion and Performing Arts Task Force. He holds a BFA in dance from SUNY Purchase (recipient of the President’s Award for Excellence), where he also studied journalism and a MFA in Dance/Ethnology from University of Utah, where he received a research fellowship in ethnology and full scholarship. Thomas Warfield has taught extensively in the U.S.A. and abroad on a variety of subjects which include: ballet, modern, jazz and African-based dance, choreography, improvisation, piano, voice, drama, acting, poetry, English, African-American studies, art/religion, and classes on individual and social identity, inner peace, self-esteem, anti-racism and unconscious bias and workshops on nurturing compassion.
Growing up the son of Rev. Vernice Warfield, a human rights activist and conductor, Robert Warfield and nephew of world renown singers William Warfield and Leontyne Price his social activism coupled with artistic endeavors began at an early age and has continues to encompass a broad, diverse spectrum of involvement in communities around the world. He is founder and artistic director of PeaceArt International (a 31yr old local/global outreach organization building community through the arts to fostering world peace). He’s a former trainer with the National Coalition Building Institute giving workshops to schools and corporations on race relations, conflict resolution and leadership training. His Global Poem In Praise of Peace has garnered global recognition in letters from composer Leonard Bernstein and Mother Teresa and hundreds of others. Mr. Warfield’s first solo album, Celebrate the Moment, has sold throughout the world and can be found on and
Thomas serves as co-Chair of the City of Rochester’s Arts Commission, vice president and founding member of the MuCCC Theatre, former president of ARTWalk (and co-creator of ARTWalk Alive Festival). He was president of the Association of Teaching Artists, and president of the William Warfield Scholarship Fund at Eastman School of Music. Thomas Warfield is on the board of Rochester Fringe Festival (chairing the Committee on Diversity) and on the Advisory boards of Rochester Area Community Foundation, Arts in the Loop, Memorial Art Gallery Director’s advisory board, serves on The Eastman Sch of Music Action Commission for Racial Justice, RPO Anti-Racism Advisory Committee, the Los Angeles Classic TV Preservation Society. He has served on the boards of Gateways Music Festival, Greentopia, Education for Peace, China Millennium Council, Young Audiences, Genesee Center for the Arts Advisory Board, The YWCA Diversity Advisory Board, Nazareth College Arts Center Advisory Board, GAGV Shoulders to Stand On Project, Rochester, Chamber Orchestra, Rochester City Ballet, Rochester Arts & Cultural Council (chair of the Cultural Diversity Initiative), Rochester Mayor’s Advisory Council on Arts, Culture and Entertainment, Dance Rochester (Advisory Board), Young Audiences, Inc. (Arts Learning Advisory Board), University of Rochester’s AIDS Vaccine Trails Unit (Victory Alliance) Community Advisory Board, and founding member of the World Dance Alliance (Hong Kong). He is associate director of the New York Dance Festival and recipient of numerous awards including: Congressional Special Recognition Award from the US Congress for service and advocacy to the Arts, 2022 Eastman School of Music Centennial Award, 2022 New York State Senate Commendation Award, 2021 Triangle Award from the Out Alliance, RIT 2020 Public Service Award, the 2014 Essie Calhoun Diversity Award from Geva Theatre, Individual Artist Award from the Rochester Arts & Cultural Council, Diversity Trailblazer Award from RIT, Unsung Heroes Award from the City of Rochester, The 2010 Elliott-Black Award from The American Ethical Union, 2015 Community Champion Award from the Empire State Pride Agenda, United Nations Young Ambassadors Award, National Dance Association Award, Be More Award from PBS, Honorary Artist Citizen from the city of Macau, China, and the 2001 Off Off-Broadway Award for Choreography among others. Honored in 2022 by the Town of Brighton, NY for his lifetime of advocacy for the arts and the LGBTQ+ communities. In 2014 the City of Rochester Proclaimed Thomas Warfield Day, and on June 20, 2022 the County of Monroe proclaimed Thomas Warfield Day in the County. He attributes his passion and blessings in life to the SPIRIT of love.