Dana Tai Soon Burgess
“Burgess is an expert at directing the eye”
Sarah Kaufman, The Washington Post
Dana Tai Soon Burgess (born February 26, 1968) is a leading American choreographer, dancer, performance artist, and cultural figure. His work has tended to focus on the “hyphenated person” – someone who is of mixed ethnic or cultural heritage – as well as issues of belonging and societal acceptance. He serves as a cultural envoy for the U.S. State Department, an appointment he uses to promote international cultural dialogue through “the global language of dance”. Throughout his career, Burgess has performed, taught, and choreographed around the world. In 1992, Burgess established the Moving Forward: Contemporary Asian American Dance Company. This was renamed in 2005 to Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Co. (DTSB&Co.) and again in 2013 to Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company (DTSBDC). It is the preeminent contemporary dance company in the Washington, D.C. area. In 1994 he received the award for Outstanding Emerging Artist at the 12th Annual Mayor Arts Award Ceremony. His dance company was awarded the Mayor’s Arts Award for Excellence in 2005. He has completed two senior Fulbrights in dance and won seven Metro D.C. Dance Awards as well as the Pola Nirenska Award. He has been honored by the Smithsonian Institution and was a prominent feature in the Smithsonian exhibition “A Korean American Century” as part of the Korean American Centennial Celebration in 2003. Stacy Taus-Bolstad mentioned Burgess and some of his career highlights in her 2005 book Koreans in America alongside comedian Margaret Cho under “Famous Korean Americans”. In 2006 he retired from dancing due to a bad back. But in 2008 he returned to the stage as a stand-in for one of his dancers, which resulted in a Washington Post review by critic Sarah Kaufman called “Retired Burgess Hasn’t Lost A Step” that said “Burgess has emerged as the area’s leading dance artist, consistently following his own path and producing distinctive, well-considered works.” The performance included the premiere of Hyphen, a surrealist dance work featuring video images by Nam June Paik from the 1960s. In 2009 Burgess was featured in advertisements for the “New 202” campaign produced by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities to highlight art and culture in the nation’s capital. He has been referred to as the “poet laureate of Washington dance”. In 2012 he was described as “not only a Washington prize, but a national dance treasure” by Pulitzer Prize winner Sarah Kaufman. From 2013-2014 Burgess was the first choreographer-in-residence at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. In May, 2014 he was quoted in Smithsonian magazine as saying his artistic focus had shifted to exploring the idea of cultural “confluence”.