Dana Tai Soon Burgess
“Burgess is an expert at directing the eye”
Sarah Kaufman, The Washington Post
Burgess is the founding artistic director of Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company (DTSBDC). He is regarded nationally and internationally for his thoughtful and culturally-inspired choreography and has been hailed as “poet laureate of Washington dance” and “not only a Washington prize, but a national dance treasure” by Pulitzer Prize winning Washington Post dance critic Sarah Kaufman.
Burgess has served as an American Cultural Ambassador for the U.S. State Department for 20 years. Burgess’s research and artistic approach is inclusive of different cultures and peoples. He has said that he seeks to embrace a “vision of humanity’s shared emotional journey” in his dance works. He has performed and taught all over the world, in such diverse places as Egypt, Israel, China, India, Mongolia, Suriname, Venezuela, Jordan, Cambodia, Germany, Latvia, Ecuador, Panama, Mexico, and Peru, among others.
Burgess established DTSBDC in 1992, as well as the DTSBDC Asian American Youth Outreach Program, which engages D.C. high school students to explore identity, artistic self-expression, and their Asian American heritage. In 1994 he received the award for Outstanding Emerging Artist at the 12th Annual Mayor Arts Award Ceremony and his dance company was awarded the Mayor’s Arts Award for Excellence in 2005. He has received two Senior Fulbrights in 2006 and 2008 as well as six Artist Fellowships from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. He received the Pola Nirenska Award in 2003.
Recently, Burgess was the first Smithsonian choreographer-in-residence at the National Portrait Gallery from 2013-2014. He was invited by President and First Lady Obama to present his work and speak about his creative process at the White House in 2013. His work has toured to more than 200 American cities and he has performed at historic venues including the Kennedy Center, La Mama, the United Nations, The Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, the Asia Society and the Lincoln Center Out of Doors. His choreography has been commissioned by the Kennedy Center, the Ballet Memphis and the National Ballet of Peru, among others.
Since 2008 Burgess has served as chair of the department of Theatre and Dance at The George Washington University, where he created a new, international dance MFA program in 2011. He is known for his expertise as a lecturer and teacher of both new and advanced students. He has taught at the School of the Hamburg Ballet, the National Ballet of Peru, the San Marcos University, Sejong University in Korea, the University Panama, and universities in Beijing and Nanjing, China, as well as the Washington Ballet, George Mason University, Georgetown University and the University of Maryland.
Burgess is a Mayoral appointed commissioner who serves on the D.C. Asian Pacific Islander Affairs Commission.