Dana Tai Soon Burgess
“Burgess is an expert at directing the eye”
Sarah Kaufman, The Washington Post
Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company is Washington, D.C,’s premier contemporary dance company, founded in 1992. Burgess has been described by Washington Post dance critic Sarah Kaufman as “not only a Washington prize, but a national dance treasure” and “poet laureate of Washington dance.” In 2013-2014 he was the Smithsonian’s first-ever choreographer in residence at the National Portrait Gallery.
Having grown up in Santa Fe as the son of an Irish-Scottish-German-American father from upstate New York and a Korean-American mother from Hawaii, Burgess has a personal interest in issues of identity, immigration, belonging and cultural acceptance, as seen in such works as “Becoming American,” “Hyphen,” “Island,” and “Chino Latino.”
The choreographer has served for 18 years as a U.S. State Department cultural ambassador, traveling with his company to the British Virgin Islands, Chile, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Korea, Latvia, Mexico, Mongolia, Pakistan, Panama, Peru and Venezuela, among other places. (The company includes dancers from diverse backgrounds – Colombian, Chilean, Filipino, Irish, Korean and Peruvian).
Burgess has performed and taught in Maryland, New Mexico, Tennessee, New York and Virginia. Closer to home, he is chair of The George Washington University’s Department of Theatre and Dance and founder of the DTSB Dance Company’s Asian American Youth Program, which mentors D.C. high school students of Asian heritage. Burgess and his company have received numerous awards including the Pola Nirenska Award and Mayor’s Arts Awards.
Burgess’s portrait has been displayed at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, alongside modern dance pioneers such as Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham and contemporary masters Twyla Tharp and Mark Morris, and as part of the 2012 exhibit, “Asian American Portraits of Encounter” by artist CYJO.