Dana Tai Soon Burgess

Photo of Dana Tai Soon Burgess
Professor & Undergraduate Advisor, Dance
Bld. J, 2131 G Street NW
[email protected]


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 (DTSBDC.org) 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. Three of his portraits are included in 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 where he creates and presents his work. His national podcast, slantpodcast.com can be heard on all listening platforms. 


Current Outside Position

Professor Tai Soon Burgess is currently the Smithsonian Institution's First Choreographer in Residence and is housed at the National Portrait Gallery.


Distinctions & Publications

  • Chino and the Dance of the Butterfly (University of New Mexico Press)
  • Milestones in Dance History (Routledge)
  • 2021 recipient of the Selma Jeanne Cohen Lecture Award
  • Two-time Senior Fullbright recipient
  • Awarded the Mayor’s Arts Award for Excellence
  • Commissioned by the National Ballet of Peru and Washington Ballet
  • Family & Personal archives are part of the permanent collection of the American History Museum
  • Three portraits are included in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery
  • 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
    • The Lincoln Center Out of Doors
  • Speaking appearance & dance performance of original piece "Dariush" at the White House at the invitation of President Barack Obama in 2013 as part of National Asian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month
  • Choreography commissioned by Ballet Memphis and the Kennedy Center
  • Dance "The Nightingale" toured to over 70 American cities
  • 2008 surrealist work "Hyphen" was re-staged to be included alongside an orchestral multimedia performance called "KYOPO: Multiplicity" by CYJO in the museum's Kogod Courtyard in 2012



BUS in Dance and Asian History, University of New Mexico
MFA in Dance, The George Washington University
The "Directors of Color" Arts Management Training Program, Kennedy Center, Director: Michael Kaiser