Santa Fe Declares Dana Tai Soon Burgess Day

by Kathleen Clawson

Santa Fe native and UNM alum, 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”

Santa Fe City Councilor Renee Villarreal officially declared March 18, 2017, Dana Tai Soon Burgess day. The 1990 UNM graduate had recently brought his Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company to campus with performances of “Leaving Pusan,” “Margin,” and “Confluence.” Burgess and the Company also presented a master class for UNM Dance students.

Throughout his career, Burgess has performed, taught, and choreographed around the world. He founded Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company in 1992. Now in its 25th season, it is the preeminent modern dance company in the Washington, D.C. region. He 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.

Dana Tai Soon Burgess

His portrait is part of the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery, where Burgess is the Smithsonian Institution’s first choreographer-in-residence. Burgess 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.”

“As the Smithsonian’s first choreographer-in-residence at the National Portrait Gallery,” said Burgess, “I have the unique opportunity to be inspired by exhibits. The dance company rehearses in the National Portrait Gallery and our rehearsal process becomes part of the exhibits. For Margin, I was moved by The Outwin exhibit’s overarching themes, which include issues of immigration, race, socio-economic inequality and an evolving gender dialogue. These issues are moving from the edge of our societal framework to a center stage conver­sation. Margin illuminates six portraits, each capturing a psychological moment of vulnerability.”

City Councilor Renee Villarreal, DTSB Dance Company President Bonnie Kogod, Dana Tai Soon Burgess and fashion designer Patricia Michaels.

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