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A Life in Dance: Dana Tai Soon Burgess


Thu 01 / 21 / 2021
7:00 PM to 8:00 PM


Via Zoom


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Dana Tai Soon Burgess is a leading American choreographer, dancer, and cultural figure. He has been referred to as the “poet laureate of Washington dance” and “not only a Washington prize but a national dance treasure” (Washington Post Pulitzer Prize-winning dance critic Sarah Kaufman).
His artistic focus explores the idea of cultural “confluence” and many of Burgess’ dances have 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 has served as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. State Department for over two decades, 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. He founded Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company ( in 1992. It is the preeminent modern dance company in the Washington, D.C. region, now in its 29th season. 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 as well as “Dancing the Dream”, the Smithsonian’s first exhibition on American dance. His portrait is part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and his family archives resides in the American History Museum. Burgess was named the Smithsonian’s first choreographer in residence in 2016.

Dana is currently working on a memoir to be published by UNM Press. He also has a new book with Routledge coming out in 2022 entitled Milestones in Dance. It is a new dance history book he is editing and writing the forward that reconsiders the canon of dance history from a globally diverse perspective.