Dana Tai Soon Burgess

Dana Tai Soon Burgess

Professor of Dance
Faculty: Associate
Phone: 202-994-8072

“...Burgess has emerged as the area's leading dance artist, consistently following his own path and producing distinctive, well-considered works.”
-Sarah Kaufman,Washington Post

Dana Tai Soon Burgess (born February 26, 1968) is an internationally acclaimed choreographer, performance artist, and cultural figure. His work has 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 serves as a cultural envoy for the U.S. State Department, 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.

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.

Burgess has taught at the Kirov Academy of Ballet and the Washington Ballet in Washington, D.C., the Hamburg Ballet in Germany, the National Ballet of Peru, San Marcos University in Peru, Sejong University in Korea, as well as in China, Mongolia, India, Jordan, and British Virgin Islands, among others.

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 began teaching at George Washington University in 2000, and from 2009-2017 he served as Chair of the Department of Theatre & Dance. Burgess designed and oversaw the implementation of a new, global distance and onsite learning MFA program for dance at the George Washington University in 2011.

He has 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. As of 2013, he serves as a commissioner for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Affairs for Washington, DC.