Dana Tai Soon Burgess
|Dana Tai Soon Burgess|
Dana Tai Soon Burgess in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia in March, 2011
February 26, 1968 |
|Occupation||dancer, choreographer, cultural envoy, advocate|
Dana Tai Soon Burgess was born February 26, 1968 in Carmel, California. He is a performance artist, internationally-acclaimed choreographer, and cultural figure. He uses dance to explore cultural identity and established two dance companies: Moving Forward Contemporary Asian American Dance Company and Moving Forward Asian American Youth Dance Program. The former was renamed in 2005 to Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Co. (DTSB&Co.) and again in 2013 to Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company (DTSBDC), and is the foremost contemporary dance company in the Washington, D.C. area. He was recently described as "a national dance treasure" by Pulitzer Prize winner Sarah Kaufman. His work often focuses 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 language of dance". Throughout his career, Burgess has performed, taught, and choreographed around the world.
Burgess was born in California but grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the son of visual artists Joseph James Burgess Jr. and Anna Kang Burgess. He began dancing at the age of 16 after a brief childhood career as a competitive martial artist. He is descended from the first group of Korean immigrants to come to America. His earliest Korean American ancestors are Chin Hyung Chai, who arrived in Hawaii aboard the Gaelic, known as the 'first ship', in 1903, and Man Soo Kang who arrived on the ship Manchuria in 1904. They became Hawaiian plantation workers.
After graduating from Santa Fe High School in 1985, Burgess attended the University of New Mexico and studied dance and asian history. Burgess graduated in 1990 and moved to Washington, D.C., where he attended the George Washington University and completed a Masters in Fine Arts in 1994. He has trained with notable dancers, such as Tim Wengerd and Judith Bennahum. He also studied the Michio Itō technique in Washington, D.C.
In 1992, Burgess established the Moving Forward: Contemporary Asian American Dance Company which houses Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company. He also 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 DTSB Asian American Youth Program. Feeling "caught between different cultural worlds" as a child, he created the program as a way for youth to explore identity, artistic self-expression, and 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 in 2011.
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. 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 completed two senior Fulbrights in dance and won seven Metro D.C. Dance Awards as well as the Pola Nirenska Award. He has been referred to as the "poet laureate of Washington dance".
Burgess' dance works have been performed in numerous venues, including the Kennedy Center, La Mama, the United Nations headquarters, Dance Place, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Asia Society, and the Lincoln Center Out of Doors. He spoke and presented his choreographic piece "Dariush" at the White House at the invitation of President Barack Obama in May 2013 as part of National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.  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, performed 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. He currently serves as a commissioner for the Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Affairs. He has received grants from the DC Commission for the Arts and Humanities and the DC Community Humanities Council, as well as from major foundations and corporate sponsors.
Burgess' recent work has focused on the immigrant experience and cultural divides, which has resulted in several of his performances being showcased on prominent State Department sponsored tours around the world. 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".
On August 11, 2013, Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company will perform a new dance work at The National Gallery of Art as part of their Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes Exhibit, organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum of London. In November 2013, Burgess and his dancers will be featured in the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibit “Dancing the Dream,” where his portrait will hang in a gallery alongside modern-dance pioneers Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham and contemporary masters Twyla Tharp and Mark Morris. Audiences will be able to observe the "living exhibition" of Burgess choreographing and rehearsing with his dancers. He was previously featured at the National Portrait Gallery, along with actor Daniel Dae Kim in the KYOPO exhibit, a work by artist CYJO.
Burgess has retired from dancing due to a back injury, but is still teaching and choreographing.
In 2011, "The Reliable Source" reported that Burgess became engaged to artist Jameson Freeman while touring the temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. They live in Washington, D.C.
- Kaufman, Sarah. "Burgess at 20: Dance fully evolved". The Washington Post. September 23. 2012. http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/burgess-at-20-dance-fully-evolved/2012/09/23/140bfb60-05a5-11e2-a10c-fa5a255a9258_story.html.
- Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Co. and Moving Forward: Contemporary Asian American Dance Company records, Special Collections Research Center, Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library, The George Washington University
- Duk Hee Lee Murabayashi. "Korean Passengers Arriving in Honolulu 1903-1905". Resources for Research on Koreans in Hawaii. March, 2001. http://www.korean-studies.info/pdf/pass200a.pdf
- Bale, Eric. "A Whale of an Effort". The Washington Post. August 2, 1993, p. B7.
- Abrams, Amanda. " GW Launches Dance MFA Program". Washington City Paper. November 30, 2010. http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/artsdesk/performance-and-dance/2010/11/30/gwu-launches-dance-mfa-program/.
- Gilbert, Sophie. "Dana Tai Soon Burgess on 20 Years of Dance". Washingtonian Magazine. September 17, 2012. http://www.washingtonian.com/blogs/afterhours/dance/dana-tai-soon-burgess-on-20-years-of-dance.php.
- D.C. Commission on the Arts & Humanities. "The New 202. Art 202 Blog. August 17, 2010. http://art202.com/2009/08/17/the-new-202/
- Kaufman, Sarah. "Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Company Perform 'Charlie Chan and the Mysteries of Love". The Washington Post. October 25, 2010. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/24/AR2010102402665.html.
- Bird, Mary. "'Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Co. at the White House". The Georgetowner June 5, 2013. http://www.georgetowner.com/articles/2013/jun/05/dana-tai-soon-burgess-white-house/.
- Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Affairs. "Mayor swears in new commissioners". Government of the District of Columbia" February 11, 2013. http://apia.dc.gov/DC/APIA/About+OAPIA/News+Room/Press+Releases/Mayor+Vincent+C+Gray+Swears+in+New+Members+of+the+DC+Commission+on+Asian+and+Pacific+Islander+Affairs.
- Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program. "Korean American Centennial Celebration". The George Washington University" February 4, 2003. http://www.gwu.edu/~media/pressrelease.cfm?ann_id=4984
- Taus-Bolstad, Stacy. "Koreans in America". "Lerner Pub Group." March, 2005. http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0822548747/ref=sr_1_4?p=S01U&keywords=dana+tai+soon+burgess&ie=UTF8&qid=1322446908#reader_0822548747"
- National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. "Exhibition Calendar: Dance Performance" August, 2013. http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/calendar/lectures/dance/dana-tai-soon-burgess.html"
- Kaufman, Sarah. "Dancing to the heart of the matter". The Washington Post. September 20, 2012. http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/theater_dance/dancing-to-the-heart-of-the-matter/2012/09/20/ba7b50a6-0355-11e2-91e7-2962c74e7738_story.html.
- Trescott, Jacqueline. "'What is an Asian American?' at the National Portrait Gallery". The Washington Post. August 11, 2011. http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/review-what-is-an-asian-american-at-the-national-portrait-gallery/2011/08/10/gIQAbZQn9I_story.html.
- The Reliable Source. "Love, etc.". "The Washington Post." August 10, 2011. "http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/reliable-source/post/love-etc-dc-choreographer-dana-tai-soon-burgess-gets-engaged/2011/08/10/gIQA8eL66I_blog.html"