Though D.C.-based choreographer Dana Tai Soon Burgess, 49, isn’t dancing professionally anymore, his lifestyle is far from sedentary. On days he’s not choreographing new works with his eponymous company, he is usually accompanying them to performances at the National Portrait Gallery (where he’s the choreographer in residence) or traveling around the world as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. State Department. We caught up with Burgess and asked what he’d do if he had an entire day to play.
When I have a day off, I like to walk from the Palisades, where I live, to Georgetown. There’s a trail that goes all the way there along the canal. I’m always amazed at the animals I’ll see — I’ve seen deer and a fox and all different kinds of birds.
Then I’d go shopping in Georgetown. I like going to Zara, and there’s this great suit shop, Suit Supply, on M Street. I also love The Lantern used books — you can find the most amazing antique and rare books there.
Georgetown has the best antiques. I really appreciate the aesthetics and the way things were made and designed in the past. I recently got this great Italian mirror at the Christ Child Society’s Opportunity Shop. It’s gold and rococo and just completely over-the-top.
The restaurant I usually go to if I have time off for lunch is Al Dente. I like it because you can sit inside or outside. I really like the arugula salad and I also like the spaghetti with Bolognese sauce.
I might keep walking and go all the way down to the Mall. I’ll go to the Lincoln Memorial right before sunset — I love how the marble itself changes colors depending on the light. When I people-watch, I look at people’s gait. It’s fascinating to see how some people move with speed and other people galumph along. Spatial patterns are interesting to me too. It’s fascinating to see how groups of people move through space, especially in crowded places.
Another great place to watch the sunset is Top of the Gate, the bar on top of the Watergate Hotel. You can sit outside and you have this incredible view. I’d have a little bite, like a spring roll, and drink a glass of wine. I just had the most wonderfully light white wine there — it was the Paul Blanck Pinot Gris France, perfect for the summer.
My dream day would be doing this all with my husband, Jameson Freeman, too. Those are the best days, when we have time to spend together.