Orange County Register recognizes senior David Burn for a top dancer award


Image used with permission from David Burn

At the California Dance Classics competition in Downey, then-sophomore David Burn performs a ballet routine in which he received an honorable mention for on March 4, 2019.

Grace Min, Sports Editor

Entering a female-dominated field as a boy, senior David Burn faced rude remarks and ignorant stereotypes at a young age.

“I definitely hid [being a dancer] a lot more when I was in elementary school because I was worried how people would view it,” said Burn, who started his dance career at CF Dance Academy at 9 years old. “When I started talking about [dancing] in middle school, people would stereotype me, but over time, I did my own thing and didn’t listen to them.”

Now, about to flip to a new chapter in his life as a Chapman University student, Burn received recognition from the Orange County Register as top dancer for commercial dance and a finalist for Artist of the Year, a title awarded to “someone who can demonstrate how their art is reaching out to and involving the community around them,” according to the Register.

The local newspaper acknowledged Burn as top commercial dancer alongside three other girls — Danielle Silver as Artist of the Year for the entire dance category, Michaela Capulong for concert dance and Mia Amaris Lopez for world/cultural dance.

With the help of Sunny Hills dance director Leiana Volen, the senior stood out among 646 applicants as a finalist for the Artist of the Year title and 90 dancers for top dancer recognition.

“While I was thrilled [that he was a finalist], I was not surprised,” said Volen, who coached Burn all four years of his high school career. “David has all the qualities, characteristics and capabilities of what makes an Artist of the Year. He is so deserving of this recognition, and I’m proud to get to see him through this exciting experience.”

Volen, who holds connections within the Register, nominated Burn for the honor. From there, it was up to Burn to apply on the Register’s Artist of the Year website by submitting dance performance videos, a resume and four writing supplements.

After being selected as a semi-finalist, Burn had an in-person interview with a panel of judges and performed two dances for them.

“I was really excited to be nominated by Miss Volen because it shows that I’ve made an impact on her throughout my four years of high school,” said Burn, who joined Dance Production as a freshman. “Finding out that I was a finalist was a great accomplishment since out of all [90] students that applied, I got to the top four.”

Burn believes his discipline, which he honed by training in ballet at a young age, helps him stand out among other talented dancers in California.

Along with this honor, Burn previously won other accolades such as California Association of Dance/Drill Team [CADTD] state champion as a freshman and a senior, first place in the men’s junior classical division at Youth America Grand Prix [YAGP] and top 12 in the junior contemporary division at YAGP.

Winning these awards and achievements helped Burn gain a voice as a performer and a person, which he showcased to the Register’s judges panel in the process of being nominated and gaining recognition.

He hopes to take this title as an opportunity to advocate for young male dancers who might lack the confidence he’s developed throughout his years of success as a performer.

“I am a representation for all male dancers through the Artist of the Year program, and although it’s a lot of pressure, I feel really excited to be that representation,” Burn said.

Watching Burn develop from a freshman to a senior, Volen firmly believed he was more than qualified to be named top commercial dancer and a finalist for Artist of the Year.

“His commitment and dedication throughout these four years has led him to gain a strong technical foundation supported by a deeper emotional connection,” she said. “I’ve seen David find himself through dance — it has allowed him to express himself creatively and on a more intimate, emotional level.”

Burn’s mom also saw her son’s hard work pay off after years of watching him navigate his way through the dance world.

“David has been received by the dance world with open arms,” Patricia Burn, the dancer’s mom, said. “Under Mrs. Volen’s guidance David has developed the self confidence to take on leadership roles and explore his ability to create original choreography and teach it to the dance team.”

Burns peers, such as senior co-dance production captain Tara Kim, describes her teammate as an inspiration to everyone on the team.

“David stands out as a dancer because of his positive, optimistic personality that shows he is always willing to take on challenges,” said Kim, who has been on Dance Production all four years with Burn. “I [feel] very proud and happy for him and his accomplishments because he worked very hard toward that goal and deserves it the most.”

Burn, who hopes to continue inspiring young male dancers after high school, committed to Chapman University on April 30, where he plans to continue concert dance, workshops and master classes to pursue a career in the dance industry after college.

“All I can say is that no matter what anybody says, if you love something you need to do it and continue to do it,” he said. “You’ll enjoy life a lot more doing what you love.”