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GW Names Award-Winning Artist Dana Tai Soon Burgess as Chair of Department of Theatre and Dance

July 10, 2009


WASHINGTON—Critically acclaimed dancer and choreographer Dana Tai Soon Burgess has been appointed the new chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at The George Washington University Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. As chair, he will lead the department's efforts to develop new performing arts initiatives and programs designed to engage students and alumni.

"We are excited to have someone of Dana Tai Soon Burgess' caliber assume his new role at the University," said Peg Barratt, dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. "His immense creativity combined with his strong leadership skills will be a valuable asset to GW's Department of Theatre and Dance as it continues to grow."

Mr. Burgess is the founding director of Washington D.C.'s premiere Asian American dance company, Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Company, which is known for its Asian-inspired works and visual clarity. He joined GW's Department of Theatre & Dance faculty in 1999, most recently serving as associate professor of dance.

"I am especially excited about expanding GW's performing arts partnerships within the District, as well as in the United States and overseas," said Mr. Burgess. "We are a top-notch University with an exceptionally talented theatre and dance faculty. We deeply care about nurturing and mentoring future dancers, actors, choreographers, directors and playwrights. GW's Theatre and Dance Department is perfectly positioned to elevate its national and international profile, and I hope to assist in achieving this goal."

Mr. Burgess' aesthetic is vitally influenced by his training in the Michio Ito technique and repertoire and by culturally specific dance forms and martial arts movement from around the world. His work has received critical acclaim for its unique synthesis of Eastern and Western aesthetics. The Washington Post once wrote, "...Burgess has emerged as the area's leading dance artist, consistently following his own path and producing distinctive, well-considered works."

His choreography has been presented and commissioned by the Smithsonian Institution, Asia Society, the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, La MaMa and the United Nations. His work has been performed extensively throughout the United States, as well as in Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Germany, India, Israel, Korea, Latvia, Mexico, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Russia and Venezuela.

One of the overarching themes that has distinguished Mr. Burgess' career is his work as a cultural ambassador. In 1994, he received the District of Columbia Mayor's Arts Award for Emerging Artist and in 2004, the Mayor's Award for Excellence in an Artistic Discipline. In 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2006, he received the Metro DC Dance Award for Best Overall Production. He has been an American Cultural Specialist for the United States State Department six times, and has taught dance technique and set work at the Hamburg Ballet School, Ballet Memphis, King Sejong University-Korea, the Kirov Academy, the National Ballet of Peru, University of Panama, University of Venezuela and the Washington Ballet. In 2006 and 2008, he received Senior Fulbright Grants to teach at the National University of San Marcos in Lima, Peru.

Mr. Burgess' most recent works include Tracings and Images from the Embers, which toured in Europe, South America and South Asia. In fall 2007, his work opened the Kennedy Center modern dance series. His latest pieces deal with cultural identity in contemporary America. Hyphen, a collaboration with the works of Nam June Paik, received critical acclaim in 2008 and he premieres Island, a collaboration with MIT Theater and Dance Design Department, in October 2009. Dana also tours internationally as a cultural ambassador for the Department of State, most recently returning from Mexico and Peru.

Mr. Burgess was raised in Santa Fe, N.M., by parents who are both visual artists. He holds a Master's of Fine Arts from GW and received arts management training through the Kennedy Center's Capacity Building Program, under the direct guidance of Michael Kaiser. He received his initial dance training from Tim Wengerd and Judith Chazin-Bennahum.

Established in 1821 in the heart of the nation's capital, GW's Columbian College of Arts and Sciences is the largest of the University's academic units with more than 40 departments and programs for undergraduate, graduate, and professional studies. Columbian College provides the foundation for GW's commitment to the liberal arts and a broad education for all students. An internationally recognized faculty and active partnerships with prestigious research institutions place Columbian College at the forefront in advancing policy, enhancing culture, and transforming lives through research and discovery.

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MEDIA CONTACTS:

Michelle Sherrard - 202-994-1423 - [email protected]

 

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