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Daniel Phoenix Singh

President and Artistic Director

DANIEL PHOENIX SINGH’s spheres of influence span broad categories across Higher Education, Field of Dance, LGBTQ Communities, South Asian Communities, and Arts practice, policy, and funding at local and national levels. His identities lie at the intersection of his queer, South Asian, immigrant, artist, and advocate roles in the various communities he inhabits.

Daniel attributes his love of dance to Pamela Matthews, a longtime friend, teacher, and advisor. He considers Karen Bernstein, Harriet Moncure Fellows, Mim Rosen (late), and Libby Smigel his cherished mentors. Daniel has worked closely with Lorry May of the Sokolow Foundation for many years and is deeply influenced by both Sokolow and May’s approach to dance. His initial training in Bharata Natyam was with Guru Meena Telikicherla, and he continues to train with leading choreographers from India. Daniel has studied the Cuban/Colombian variations of Salsa and Merengue with Javier Varela and Shawn Malone and has studied Tango with Sharna Fabiano. He continues to train at the Maryland Youth Ballet and with master teachers from India.

HIGHER EDUCATION: Daniel worked at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) for over 20 years with leaders in undergraduate education. He was the one of the founding staff members of AAC&U’s Campus Diversity Initiative funded by Ford Foundation. This initiative brought together thoughtful curriculum change with a focus on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence on campuses with the intersection of technology to surface best practices to scale the project to over 1000 campuses in the United States.

DANCE/ARTS: Daniel Phoenix Singh is the Artistic Director and President of Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company. Working from a broad palette of styles such as Bharata Natyam, Modern Dance, and Social dance forms, Daniel creates vibrant dances that mirror the communities that inspire him. In modern dance, movement at its core, is a means of connecting to each other without the boundaries and burdens of text–an open to interpretation approach that allows the viewer to enter and leave with their own personal meaning. In Bharata Natyam, all movement (even abstract) leads towards an emotional transcendence, and is often grounded in the rich literary traditions of the many languages in South Asia. Daniel weaves together this confluence of South Asian and Modern Dance philosophies, aesthetics, and movement styles to create his signature hybridized work.

QUEER ORGANIZING: Daniel has led effective collaborations with individuals and organizations from a wide variety of backgrounds while working towards common, long-term goals through his work with QSANN (Queer South Asian National Network), Rainbow Dragon Fund (DC’s Queer Giving Circle), and KhushDC (a DC based South Asian Queer organization). The initiatives shared by these organizations included coalition building, advocacy, education, policy changes, organizational stability, and capacity building. Working with these national bodies helped him learn how to move common causes forward while supporting organizations at various stages of organizational development in a thoughtful manner.

ARTS POLICY AND FUNDING: Currently Daniel is the Division Chief for Tourism and Cultural Arts at Baltimore County in Maryland. His arts leadership experience includes creative placemaking projects, stewarding Arts & Entertainment Districts, effecting funding policies shifts to balance the disparities toward individual artists, and positioning non-hierarchical art forms as equally valid as the hierarchical ones. His expertise is frequently sought out in national granting organizations, state level policy and planning task forces, and national higher education programming. Currently he is focused on re-integrating Arts Education into the K-12 systems, lifting up BIPOC artists, and finding ways to keep live performing arts moving forward in the post COVID-19 world by partnering with Parks for outdoor performances.

EDUCATION AND BACKGROUND: Daniel draws on a diverse educational base with an MBA from Georgetown University, an MFA in Dance and a Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies focusing on Critical Race Studies from the University of Maryland, and a Laban Movement Analyst Certificate from the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies in New York City. He received a baccalaureate degree in Dance at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. His current focus is on creating sustainable dance programs that support dancers both artistically and financially.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION: His Dance Company Dakshina received the Founder’s Award for Innovation in Dance in 2007 and received the Emerging Group and Excellence in Costume Design in 2008 from the Metro DC Dance Awards. In 2009, Dakshina received a prestigious touring grant and performed Anna Sokolow’s work in India and also was the first US based dance company to visit Bangladesh since the country’s founding 40 years ago. In 2010, Artistic Director, Daniel Phoenix Singh became one of the youngest finalists for the DC Mayor’s Arts Awards in the Innovation in the Arts category. In 2011, Dakshina was one of only two US based dance companies to be invited to perform at the prestigious Maximum India Festival organized by Kennedy Center. In December of 2012, Sarah Kaufman the Pulitzer prize winning dance critic at the Washington Post selected Dakshina’s performance as one of the top three local performances of the year. Washington Performing Arts Society, in association with the Pola Nirenska Memorial Awards Committee, presented the 2013 Pola Nirenska Memorial Award for Outstanding Contribution to Dance to Daniel. The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities recognized Dakshina with an Innovate Arts Award in 2015–Dakshina was the only dance company to receive this distinguished award which will support the community involved creation of this work.