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40th Anniversary Celebration Spotlight: Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company

February 6, 2014

Our 40th Anniversary Celebration on March 17 will feature a variety of live music, theatre, poetry, and dance performances from some of the region’s most exciting nonprofits and local artists. We’re featuring Artist Spotlights on our blog over the coming month to introduce you to our artists and give you a sneak preview of what you’ll see on the 17th! Buy tickets and learn more at


ImageBy Dana Tai Soon Burgess (Artistic Director, Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company)

I was honored to be asked recently to participate in The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region’s 40th Anniversary Gala.  Along with spoken word artists, musicians, and visual artists, Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company will perform at the Foundation’s anniversary event on March 17 at The Mead Center for American Theatre, Home of Arena Stage.

For 40 years, The Community Foundation and its donors have supported causes that are important to this region – from housing and food to education and job training. So where does a dance company fit into that mission?

Throughout its history, The Community Foundation and its donors have also provided critical funding to local arts organizations.  Think about institutions such as Levine Music, Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Glen Echo Park and the Atlas Performing Arts Center. My own home-grown dance company, now celebrating its 22nd season, would not exist if not for support from the local community.

Philanthropic support from The Community Foundation and its donors, as well as other local funders, sustained us through our early years, into our second decade, and through the economic downturn, which was particularly hard on arts organizations, as resources were understandably redirected to the safety net. We are grateful to Community Foundation donors like Sheri and Rob Rosenfeld, who recognize the value in having a professional contemporary dance company in the region and have therefore invested in us year after year. Even when the recession threatened our survival, the Rosenfelds and other generous funders ensured we were able to create and perform new works and mentor the next generation through our Asian American Youth Program.

There is no doubt that the arts make this region a wonderful place to live and work. No one understood that better than the late Jaylee Mead who said:  “Whether supporting theatre or other art forms, education or other valuable endeavors, it has always been important to me to give where I live, while I live, so I can see what a difference philanthropy can make. Every gift I make…generates positive economic impact in those communities.”

Whether your passion is dance, theater, music or another art form, whether you are able to fund a major theater project, like the Meads, or support dancer’s salaries like the Rosenfelds, your support of a local arts organization does indeed have a positive economic impact in our region.

I hope to see you March 17 at Arena Stage. In the meantime, if you want a sneak preview of that performance, come support us at The Kennedy Center this weekend, Feb. 7-8.  I promise you will leave wanting more. Come see for yourself.

Dana Tai Soon Burgess is the Smithsonian’s first ever choreographer-in-residence in 2014.

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