You could say the three works that Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Company performed over the weekend at George Washington University’s Marvin Theatre dealt with the human cost of national trauma. You could also say they centered on American culture, or death. But what was most movingly apparent in Burgess’s “Charlie Chan and the Mystery of Love,” “Island” and his newest piece, “America’s Cloud,” was an optimistic note: the human desire to console.
“Charlie Chan,” which premiered last fall, is a deeply symbolic look at Burgess’s youthful fascination with the Hollywood detective, whose pseudo-Confucian wisdom was a modern tonic for an Asian child growing up in New Mexico. In this episodic dance, glamourous women wielding stock props from Chan films — magnifying glasses, cocktails — help Burgess’s alter ego find his true self. The simpler, darker but powerfully cohesive “Island” depicted the turn-of-the-century mistreatment of Chinese inhabitants of the Angel Island Immigration Station off the coast of San Francisco. Here, the prisoners are a source of strength for one another.