On Saturday, May 6th, 2023, the UNM Art Museum will host the Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company to premiere a new modern dance entitled Transformations in the University of New Mexico’s Keller Hall. Transformations is inspired by the New Mexico-based Transcendental Painting Group. The program will begin at 4:00 PM with a panel discussion featuring Founding Artistic Director Dana Tai Soon Burgess, Costume Designer Patricia Michaels, and UNM Art Museum Director Arif Khan, with the performance to follow. The event will be recorded and simultaneously live streamed on the UNM Art Museum’s YouTube account.
Attendees are invited to join us for a reception and book signing in the Center for the Arts lobby, starting at 5:30 PM. Copies of Chino and the Dance of the Butterfly: A Memoir by Dana Tai Soon Burgess, published in 2022 by UNM Press, will be available for purchase. The UNM Art Museum will be open until 7:00 PM.
Dana Tai Soon Burgess, an alumnus of UNM’s Department of Theater and Dance, is a leading American choreographer and cultural figure. “As a UNM alumnus, it is wonderful to be back at the university working with the UNM Art Museum and to be interacting with its fine collection on this exciting project. It’s a homecoming,” said Burgess. He is currently based at the National Portrait Gallery where he explores the confluence of dance and portraiture. Burgess has performed, taught, and choreographed around the world. He founded the Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company in 1992. It is the preeminent modern dance company in the Washington, D.C. region.
“My focus in choreography is often the confluence of dance and the visual arts. In creating Transformations, I was deeply moved by, not just the forms and colors present in the Transcendental Painting Group’s works, but also by their interest in the connection between abstraction and spirituality,” said Burgess. The Transcendental Painting Group was formed in Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico, in 1938. Many of the founding members have close ties to the UNM Art Museum.
Transformations is accompanied by a composition by Dane Rudhyar, performed live by pianist Dana Scott. “I chose Dane Rudhyar’s piano score Transmutation because of his association to the Transcendental Painting Group,” said Burgess. “The score is complicated. Its interlacing sections challenge the dancers as they move through space and seek to interact with one another like moving brushstrokes on a canvas.” World-renowned Fashion and Textile Designer, Patricia Michaels of Taos Pueblo, and her daughter Margeaux Abeyta, designed the costumes for Transformations.
This presentation of Transformations is made possible by a grant from the Terra Foundation for American Art, with additional support from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Heinz und Liselotte Nehring Stiftung, National Endowment for the Arts, MediaDesk, New Mexico Humanities Council, UNM’s College of Fine Arts, and UNM Press. The UNM Art Museum would like to thank Rebecca Smith, Liz Rincon, and Richard Hess from the UNM College of Fine Arts for their assistance in presenting this program.