Traci Tolmaire is a performing artist with many talents. One who has been studying and training for a career in the arts since childhood. She has worked with some of the most respected people in the entertainment industry and has proven to be as well versed behind the scenes as she is on stage.
Traci began training in ballet and tap at an early age at Sammy Dyer School of the Theatre in Chicago. She later added the disciplines of jazz and modern dance while expanding her studies at Lou Conte Dance Studio home of Hubbard Street Dance Company, Joel Hall Dance Center, Gus Giordano, and Cleo Parker Robinson Dance in Denver. Traci also attended master classes with the legendary Katherine Dunham in Denver and tap icon Savion Glover in Chicago and New York.
After graduating with honors from Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, she then went on to attend Spelman College in Atlanta where she graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in Theatre. During her junior year of college, she participated in an academic exchange program at New York University where she studied drama at Tisch School of the Arts. While there, she performed as an actor and dancer in Spell #7 written by Ntozake Shange and directed by Tony Award winning actress Trazana Beverly. After college, Traci stayed in Atlanta for two years to further develop her skills. She began dancing for various R&B artists while working on her own one woman show under the direction of artist/director/educator and former Artistic Director of the renowned CityKids Foundation in New York Hilda Willis. Traci also discovered her passion for arts education when she accepted an administrative position with a local arts organization the Performing Arts Program for Youth (PAPY) after interning for them during her senior year. It wasn’t long before she was in the classroom and promoted to become one of the lead teaching artists for PAPY, a program started by Jane Fonda dedicated to using the arts to teach life skills to middle and high school students in the Atlanta Public Schools.
In 2003, Traci made the move to New York where she continued to audition for and perform in various theatrical projects. While doing this, she temped for several divisions of Universal Music Group including Def Jam and Interscope. During a long term temp assignment at Universal Motown Records, Traci was offered a full time position as the Executive Assistant to the EVP of A&R Samuel “Tone” Barnes of the production team Trackmasters. The Trackmasters have produced hits for Jay-Z, Destiny’s Child, Will Smith, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, and countless other musical stars. After working for Tone for two years, she was then promoted to Associate A&R Manager and reported directly to the President of Universal Motown Sylvia Rhone. While there, Traci worked on album projects for artists including the iconic Stevie Wonder, India.Arie, Q-Tip, Lloyd, Swizz Beatz, and Nick Cannon to name a few.
With that music industry experience under her belt, Traci was then offered a corporate sales position with the contemporary clothing line Edun. Once again, Traci found herself connected to the music industry working for Edun’s founders, U2’s Bono and his wife Ali Hewson. The husband and wife team created the company in an effort to increase trade with Africa by producing the Edun collection there and fostering economic development in the region; a mission that inspired Traci to accept a position in fashion. After only six months, Traci was promoted to Senior Account Executive for the eastern half of the United States and Canada.
Although Traci found herself working in extremely demanding industries, she continued to make inroads in the arts. After two years at Edun, Traci decided to move to a smaller but still nationally recognized regional theatre market- the San Francisco Bay Area- to focus solely on her artistic career. In the Bay, Traci met and established what has become a long-term artistic relationship with arts activist/spoken word artist/librettist Marc Bamuthi Joseph and The Living Word Project. In 2011, Traci had the honor of developing and premiering Joseph’s national tour of the Bessie Award Nominated red, black and GREEN: a blues (rbGb) which spanned four years and toured in more than 20 cities including BAM in New York, MCA in Chicago, REDCAT in Los Angeles, and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. With this performance piece, Traci was able to manifest her desire to combine her passion for and experience in arts education and community engagement with her artistry onstage.
To date, Traci has received four AUDELCO award nominations including Best Choreographer and Best Ensemble for the world premiere of Dancing On Eggshells (The Billie Holiday Theatre) and Best Ensemble and Best Revival for Plenty of Time (Woodie King Jr.’s New Federal Theatre). She choreographed Hartford Stage Company’s production of Gee’s Bend, winner of a Connecticut Critics Circle Award for Best Ensemble and worked as an understudy on Lisa Kron’s play In the Wake at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. In summer 2015, she premiered Black Joy In the Hour of Chaos, a performance piece in Central Park for Creative Time’s Drifting In Daylight exhibition.
Her other recent works include the world premiere of August Darnell’s aka Kid Creole of Kid Creole and the Coconuts (and Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band) musical Cherchez La Femme titled after his iconic song of the same name at La MaMa ETC in the East Village. She performed the role of Janee in The High Priestess of Dark Alley which kicked off the 100th anniversary celebration of Le Petit Theatre, New Orleans oldest theatre located in the heart of the French Quarter. Her next project, the national tour of Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s full length performance piece /peh-LO-tah/, will premiere at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in November 2016. Traci currently resides in New York.