Dean Donna Faye Burchfield Knighted by France

March 16, 2023

In recognition of her global contributions to dance, Donna Faye Burchfield, dean of University of the Arts’ School of Dance, was awarded the rank of Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters from the French Ministry of Culture. The recognition, one of the primary distinctions from France’s ministerial orders, is bestowed upon those who have distinguished themselves through their creativity in the cultural realm and their dedication to advancing the distribution of arts and culture.

The Order of Arts and Letters (Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) was established by the Republic of France in 1957 to recognize eminent artists and writers, as well as people who have contributed significantly to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world. The Order of Arts and Letters is awarded three times annually under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Culture. American recipients of the award include Paul Auster, Ornette Coleman, Agnes Gund, Marilyn Horne, Jim Jarmusch, Robert Paxton, Robert Redford, Meryl Streep and Uma Thurman.

“Traveling to France over the past three decades has shaped my career in profound ways,” Burchfield said. “The relationships I have formed there over the years have helped me to understand the great lessons bound up in lifelong, loving friendships in dance. I am humbled by this honor.”

“Collaborating with Donna Faye, sharing ideas, and learning from her experience in dance and education is as joyful as it is elevating. It makes you wish you were a student again, and students of Donna Faye are fortunate indeed,” said Gaëtan Bruel, director of Villa Albertine and Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy in the United States.

Donna Faye Burchfield, professor and dean of the School of Dance, arrived at University of the Arts in 2010. Before her arrival, she served as dean of the American Dance Festival (2000–2010) and professor of dance at Hollins University (1993–2010) in Virginia.

While at UArts, in 2019, she worked alongside Lauren Bakst to develop the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage–supported platform The School for Temporary Liveness, which premiered that fall at the Philadelphia Art Alliance. In summer 2018, she launched the university’s internationally situated MFA program in Montpellier, France, situated at the ICI-CCN (International Choreographic Institute). That was coupled with the inaugural Study Cycle, Dancing Politics, Moving Performance: Conversations at the Edges of Choreography, which took place at the CND (Centre National de la Danse) in Paris. She formed a three-year-long working relationship with the artistic staff at the Painted Bride Arts Center as an artistic advisor to guide the Bride’s 2016 Re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia Project with support from the Pew Center. Returning to Seoul for the fourth time, she was a juror for the 2016 Seoul International Choreography Festival. She also served on the Dance/USA Philadelphia’s Advisory Committee and as co-chair for the national conference for Dance/USA (June 2013), and she co-chaired and hosted the Society for Dance History Scholars conference: Dance and the Social City (June 2012) at UArts. In May 2014, she received a distinguished honorary fellowship from Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance in Israel. The award is given to distinguished artists whose artistic and educational visions have made a remarkable contribution to the fields of music and dance. She was awarded the esteemed Balasaraswati/Joy Ann Dewey Beinecke Award and endowed chair for distinguished teaching at the 2011 American Dance Festival (ADF) at Duke University. In 2006, she received the North Carolina School for the Arts Outstanding Teacher in Performance Award for contributions to the dance program at University of North Carolina School of the Arts and to the state of North Carolina.

While at Hollins, she authored and directed the Hollins MFA program in collaboration with the ADF (2006–2010). She also hosted the American College Dance Festival on two occasions and the 2008 Congress on Research in Dance conference: Dance Studies and Global Feminisms. She received the Hollins Herta Freitag Faculty Legacy Award for Distinguished Service in 2009.

She has worked generously across the U.S. and around the world as an educational leader in the field of dance, developing curriculum, managing international programs, and hiring and recruiting faculty, as well as leading national and international recruitment efforts. Her service to the field extends to decades of work on a multitude of panels and organizations around the globe in support of dance and students. Her in-depth work and teaching of dance in countries around the world include China, Hong Kong, England, France, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Tunisia, Italy and Cuba. She taught, managed, designed and curated the teaching platforms for the ADF International Linkages in Moscow (U.S. State Department supported, 2000), Seoul and Shanghai. Burchfield holds a BFA and an MFA from Texas Christian University, where she studied with Jerry Bywaters Cochran.