What it Means to Be a Black Man: A Conversation with African American Male Choreographers

How does Black Contribution play a part in your day to day life? This Zoom panel discussion will feature Established Black Male Choreographers and will be hosted by Devon McLeod of the New York City Ballet. It will be framed around the simple questions: What It Means To Be A Black Man? How do you use your voice as a Black Choreographer in today’s climate? Join us to hear their answers and to be a part of a conversation that identifies Black Creation at the foundation of society.

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Meet the Panelists

Thomas Warfield


Thomas Warfield is the founder/artistic director of PeaceArt International (a local/global outreach organization using the arts to foster world peace), director of dance at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at the Rochester Institute of Technology, associate director of Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre and vocal soloist at Unity Church in Rochester, NY and the Chilmark Community Church on Martha’s Vineyard. He is also co-president of Rochester Region Association of Teaching Artists (RRATA) and serves on the State Board of ATA.


The son of a minister and a conductor and nephew of internationally renowned singers William Warfield and Leontyne Price, Thomas Warfield began piano lessons at age 4, and at 6 was performing on stage. He began dance training in Rochester, NY with Olive McCue at the Mercury Ballet, studied at the School of American Ballet and the Joffrey Ballet in NYC, and on full scholarship at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance.

His 14yrs. with the Opera Theatre of Rochester, and performances with the New York City Opera and Metropolitan Opera allowed him to work with directors Franco Zefferelli and Spike Lee, composers John Adams and Marvin Hamlisch, scientist Carl Sagan, singer Placido Domingo, Beverly Sills and others. As a singer his repertoire spans German lieder to gospel.

Sean McLeod


Sean McLeod is an Executive Producer, Award Winning Businessman, and American Choreographer whose work spans more than 30 years and 3 continents including New York City, across the US, and internationally to the West Indies, the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa.  Sean is founder of Reaching for Higher Ground Consulting – a Communication, Performance, and Development Company, President of Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre, and is Executive Producer of the Harriet Tubman Freedom Music Festival, New York Dance Festival and the Global Dance Initiative.  He has worked with several Senators and Congressmen and is a Conference Designer, Fortune 500 Executive Life Coach, Mediation Expert, and Motivational Speaker that uses the arts to teach Personality Development and Emotional Development for Corporations and Executives. He teaches Life Skills to Teens, Parental communication skills, and facilitates Family Development intervention for public schools and universities. Sean was inducted into the Auburn Music Hall of Fame and is presently working with the legendary Wycliffe Gordon on new arrangements of “A Soundtrack for Harriet Tubman,” a suite of songs he composed nearly 30 years ago. Sean is noted for promoting talent everywhere he works and has personally awarded over 400 thousand dollars to established and emerging artists.

Garth Fagan

Garth Fagan Headshot

GARTH FAGAN (choreographer) Critics have called Garth Fagan “a true original,” “a genuine leader,” and “one of the great reformers of modern dance.” Fagan is the founder and artistic director of the award-winning and internationally acclaimed Garth Fagan Dance, now celebrating our milestone 50th anniversary! A Tony and Olivier Award winner for his path-breaking choreography for Walt Disney’s The Lion King (1997), Fagan’s distinguished work in the theatre also includes the Duke Ellington street opera, Queenie Pie, at the Kennedy Center (1986) and the opening production of New York Shakespeare Festival’s Shakespeare Marathon: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1988). The Company’s distinctive movement quality comes from years of training in Fagan Technique, the teaching method Fagan developed hand-in hand with his own dance vocabulary. which draws on many sources: a sense of weight in modern dance, torso-centered movement and energy of AfroCaribbean, the speed and precision of ballet, and the rule breaking experimentation of the postmoderns. “Originality has always been Mr. Fagan’s strong suit, not least in his transformation of recognizable idioms into a dance language that looks not only fresh but even idiosyncratic,” writes Anna Kisselgoff of The New York Times. In 2014, Lewis Segal of the Los Angeles Times wrote “it was American master Garth Fagan who best fused technical virtuosity with conceptual depth. The soul-deep conviction and spectacular flair of his 1983 (Prelude)“Discipline Is Freedom”…may have been the indispensable dance experience of the year.” 


In the world of concert dance, Fagan choreographs primarily for Garth Fagan Dance. Mudan 175/39, was named by The New York Times as the third of the top six dance-watching moments of 2009. Fagan has also produced commissions for a number of leading companies, including Footprints Dressed in Red, for the Dance Theatre of Harlem; Scene Seen for the debut of the Jamison Project; Jukebox for Alvin for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Never No Lament for the Jose Limon Company; and Ellington Elation, for the New York City Ballet in honor of Duke Ellington’s centenary and New York City Ballet’s 50th anniversary. Bio Continued…

Rasta Thomas

Rasta Thomas

Rasta Thomas trained in martial arts and gymnastics before ballet. At the age of 13 he became a professional dancer with Le Jeune Ballet de France. He is recipient of numerous awards, including Gold Medals from the 1996 Varna International Ballet Competition and the 1998 Jackson International Ballet Competition. Additionally, he has danced at the Oscars, been in a GAP commercial, modeled for Capezio, starred on Broadway, performed at the White House, appeared on SYTYCD, made movie with Patrick Swayze, opened the special Olympic World Games and guested with over 20 professional companies including the Kirov Ballet and American Ballet Theater. He has worked closely with such famed artists as Maya Plisetskaya, Tetsuya Kumakawa, Mikhail Baryshnikov and more. He held the position of resident director at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles and was the director of her summer programs in Atlanta and Detroit. He was the CEO and owner of Showbiz National Talent Competition and director and cofounder of TITANS of Dance. Additionally he was the director and cofounder of City Dance’s DREAMScape an annual gala performance providing children with after school dance activities. In 2007 he created his dance company Bad Boys of Dance which went on to have international success with the hit show “Rock the Ballet”. He has also shared the stages with stars such as Elton John, Lady Gaga, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion and J Bavlin. He has been a dance educator to companies and schools around the world such as Acosta Danza, Broadway Dance Center, Cirque du Soleil and more. Today he continues to share his art as a dancer, director, producer, choreographer and teacher.

Jason Samuels Smith

Jason Samuel Smith

Garth Fagan Cont.

Garth Fagan Headshot

Garth Fagan was selected as an “Irreplaceable Dance Treasure” by The Dance Heritage Coalition, An irreplaceable dance treasure has made a significant impact on dance as an art form, demonstrated artistic excellence, enriched the nations cultural heritage, demonstrated the potential to enhance the lives of future generations and shown itself worthy of national and international recognition. He is a Chancellor’s Award-winning Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of the State University of New York, and taught for over three decades at the State University of New York at Brockport. In the fall of 2003, Fagan received the George Eastman Medal from the University of Rochester for “outstanding achievement and dedicated service.” He holds honorary doctorates from the Juilliard School, the University of Rochester, Nazareth College of Rochester, and Hobart and William Smith Colleges. In 2001 he was the recipient of the Golden Plate Award and was inducted into the American Academy of Achievement. In 1996 he was named a Fulbright 50th Anniversary Distinguished Fellow. Fagan received the 2001 Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a prestigious threeyear choreography fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. In recognition of his contribution to modern dance, Fagan has received the Dance Magazine Award for “significant contributions to dance during a distinguished career” and a Bessie Award for Sustained Achievement. Other awards include the Monarch Award from the National Council for Culture and Art, the Lillian Fairchild Award, and the Arts Achievement Award from his alma mater, Wayne State University.