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Interdisciplinary Performing Artist
"Damian Norfleet is a gifted improvisational singer, performance artist, actor, and social justice activist who has occupied a rare multi-dimensional space in the performing arts" (I Care If You Listen). Norfleet “brings a full range of emotions” (Boston Globe) and commands both stage and screen with a strong presence and powerful singing. Across spoken word, song, and poetry; his output focuses on space, language and phonemic awareness.
Barrymore Award-winning and IRNE Award-nominated actor Damian Norfleet has been a guest artist at the New England Conservatory and the Bread and Puppet Theater; taught a masterclass at Bennington College; conducted a vocal health seminar for the performers at Hong Kong Disney, and presented at a symposium for student artists from Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong. He has workshopped, developed, and directed new works with the John Duffy Institute for New Opera, American Opera Project, and the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at NYU|Tisch. In 2022, Damian was a consultant to Lighthouse Artspace Minneapolis to reimagine the space for future performances, exhibits, and residencies. He co-curated Young, Gifted, and Black (2020) and Love in Times of Alienation (2017) with the Concerts in the Heights ensemble, both presented at New York’s Lehman Art Gallery. 2021 began with Blessed for Opera Philadelphia’s Digital Commission Series, 2022 began with a collaboration with thirteen time Grammy Award-winning producer Judith Sherman, and 2023 begins with Praise Pecola!, a commissioned piece for voice and bass clarinet inspired by Toni Morrison's seminal work The Bluest Eye. The duet Praise Pecola! will be premiered at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts by clarinetist Moran Katz and vocalist Damian Norfleet during Ensemble Pi's concert Read Dangerously.
Norfleet traversed the United States as the lead actor, vocalist, and saxophone soloist of the nationally touring production In the Mood: A 1940s Musical Revue. He played the role of Smith in the 2012 Drama Desk Award-nominated production of The Threepenny Opera. In 2014, Damian performed in an experimental opera at the Guggenheim Museum as part of the Works & Process performing arts series. Soon thereafter, he portrayed Terrence Roberts in the world premiere of the play Little Rock, which earned him and the cast a Barrymore Award for Best Ensemble. In 2020, Damian played Scar in Hong Kong Disney's Festival of the Lion King. On screen, Damian starred in the comedy series Co-operation with Lucy Goranson and Phoebe Robinson, partnered with Andre Braugher in the feature film Emily & Tim (starring Olympia Dukakis), and is currently cast as Pharaoh Akhenaten in the afro-futuristic feature film trilogy Protector of the Gods (in pre-production). In 2012, Damian Norfleet was honored to be the featured performer at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Beacon of Liberty Awards honoring Terrence McNally. Mr. Norfleet has performed principal roles with Glimmerglass Opera, Portland Opera, American Opera Project, Opera Philadelphia (Opera On Film), and appeared in concert at Lincoln Center. Damian's been blessed to work with amazing artists like record producer Judith Sherman, composers Courtney Bryan, Trevor Weston and Yosvany Terry; visual artists Tiona Nekkia McClodden, Peter Schumann, and Katya Popova; costume designer Miodrag Guberinic, sound designer Rob Kaplowitz, conductors Vimbayi Kaziboni, David Bloom, and David Charles Abell; stage directors Diane Paulus and Lars Jan, and regularly collaborates with two socially conscious, activist orchestras: The Dream Unfinished and Ensemble Pi.
As a young artist, Damian served as the associate principal bassoonist of the Orchestra of the Pines; studied vocal pedagogy with Dr. David Jones and Dr. Robert Sataloff; attended masterclasses with Dalton Baldwin and Warren Jones; was mentored by Tom Krause; and enjoyed a brief stint as a resident artist at the acclaimed Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. This was the moment when Mr. Norfleet turned his attention to acting. Immediately upon leaving AVA, Mr. Norfleet was accepted into the acting studio of actor/director Pete Pryor at the University of the Arts and later studied Shakespeare performance with Sybil Lines of the Royal Shakespeare Company. (Fun fact: Damian studied West African dance with Jeannine Osayande)
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