Dana Tai Soon Burgess

Dana Tai Soon Burgess photo

photo credit: Sueraya Shaheen

Dana Tai Soon Burgess is a leading American choreographer, dancer, and cultural figure known worldwide as the “Diplomat of Dance.” In 1992, he founded the Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company (DTSBDC), a preeminent modern dance company based in Washington, D.C.

As the Company’s artistic director, his work explores the idea of cultural “confluence” with many of his dances focusing on the “hyphenated person” – someone who is of mixed ethnic or cultural heritage – and the emotions of belonging and societal acceptance.

Since 2016, Burgess has been the Smithsonian Institution’s first-ever Choreographer-in-Residence. In this role, he creates new works inspired by museum exhibitions and participates in public discussions about dance and art.

The exploration of dance and art is deeply rooted for Burgess. The son of two visual artists he has always approached the stage as a canvas, and the dancers as brush strokes. In 2003, Burgess was one of only three artists featured in the Smithsonian Institution’s “A Korean American Century” – an exhibition highlighting the history and achievements of Korean Americans in the US. “Dancing the Dream,” marked the Smithsonian’s first exhibition on American dance during this centennial celebration as well. His portrait is part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and his family archives reside in the American History Museum.

Burgess and the Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company have received numerous awards and acclamations including the Outstanding Emerging Artist at the 12th Annual Mayor Arts Award (1994), the Mayor’s Arts Award for Excellence (2005), seven Metro D.C. Dance Awards, as well as the Pola Nirenska Award which celebrates trailblazers and leaders of the dance community. Burgess received the Paul Ré Peace Prize by the University of New Mexico Foundation for bridging communities around the globe through choreography.

Burgess is the author of Chino and the Dance of the Butterfly: A Memoir by University of New Mexico Press. He is also the host of Slantpodcast.com which focuses on the Asian American arts experience.

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