Dana Tai Soon Burgess
“Burgess is an expert at directing the eye”
Sarah Kaufman, The Washington Post
Dana Tai Soon Burgess (Founding artistic director and choreographer) was raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico, by parents who are both visual artists.
Burgess is a choreographer and cultural figure. He uses dance to explore Asian American identity and established two dance companies. In 1992, Burgess established the Moving Forward: Contemporary Asian American Dance Company which houses Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company. Additionally, he established the Moving Forward: Asian American Youth Dance Program, which was a summer program for Asian American youth. The program still operates under the name DTSBDC Asian American Youth Program and continues to encourage youth to explore their Asian American heritage.
His passion to teach extended outside his dance companies when he taught classes at the Kirov Academy of Ballet of Washington, DC, the Hamburg Ballet in Germany, the National Ballet of Peru, San Marcos University in Peru, Sejong University in Korea, and the Washington Ballet. Burgess’ teaching career has also included George Mason University, Georgetown University and the University of Maryland. Burgess became Director of Georgetown University’s dance program in 1994. He was offered a professorship at George Washington University in 2000, where he currently serves as Chair of the Department of Theatre & Dance. Burgess also designed and oversaw a new, global distance and onsite learning MFA program for dance at the George Washington University.
He has trained with notable dancers, such as Tim Wengerd and Judith Bennahum. Also vital to his aesthetic are his training in the Michio Ito technique (developed by the first Asian American choreographer) as well as martial arts. In 1994 he received an award for Outstanding Emerging Artist at the 12th Annual Mayor Arts Award Ceremony. The Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company was awarded the Mayor’s Award for Outstanding Artistic Excellence in 2005. Burgess was featured in ads for the “New 202″ campaign produced by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. He has completed two senior Fulbrights in dance and won numerous Metro D.C. Dance Awards as well as the Pola Nirenska Award. He has been referred to as the “poet laureate of Washington dance”. His recent work has focused on the immigrant experience and cultural divides, which resulted in several of his performances being showcased on State Department sponsored tours around the world.
His work has been performed in numerous venues, including Dance Place, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Kennedy Center, La Mama, the United Nations headquarters, the Asia Society, and the Lincoln Center Out of Doors in New York City. Burgess’ choreography has also been commissioned by Ballet Memphis and the Kennedy Center. His work “The Nightingale” toured to over 200 American cities. He has taught, lectured and toured around the world in countries such as Egypt, Israel, Korea, China, India, Mongolia, Venezuela, Germany, Latvia, Ecuador, Panama, Mexico, Peru, and Cambodia, among others. He has also served on the board of Asian American Arts and Media and was a commissioner for the Commission for the Arts and Humanities for the District of Columbia.