Dane Hurst © John Ross

The Critics Circle

Dancer's Dream

National Dance Awards winner Dane Hurst talks to Marianne Gray

Marianne Gray

Published: 01/02/2014

Dane Hurst, the South African ballet dancer voted best male dancer in the 2013 Circle National Dance Awards has a dream. Hurst, who comes from Port Elizabeth, wants to give something back to young dancers in his home country. "I have the vision of setting up a dance studio or creative base for students and professionals in South Africa," he said. His plans include transporting the equipment of the old Rambert Dance Company, of which he is a member, to Port Elizabeth.

The equipment has become available because the Rambert Company has been modernizing its premises. "At present I have negotiated the purchase of the old dance floor, some sound equipment and an old ballet barre from the previous studio," he said. "It is all packed in storeage and the plan is to arrange a fundraising gala to gather some money to transport it, along with dance shoes and clothes, to South Africa. The project is in its infdnacy, but it has to start somewhere and I hope this recent award will help me reach out to some inflluential sponsors who could help make this dream a reality."

Hurst, who is 29, has been dancing with the Rambert company since 2004. He started dancing at the Toynbee Ballet School in Port Elizabeth and said that as a kid he used to lie under the table and watch feet dancing all day while his grandmother made costumes for a small dance studio in the area. He did break dancing and all kinds of sport and then heard about the Toynbee Studio situated in the outskirst of the town.

"When I walked into the studio I didn't know what I was doing," he said. "I was transfixed by this beautiful chaos, the movement, the music, the smell. Then I saw one boy jumpoing higher than anybody else. Before seeing him it never occurred to me to try dancing myself. That was it."

He won a bursary to come to Britain where he found life as a dancer massively hard work. "When it comes to training, the Rambert School normally train Monday to Saturday for up to 44 hours a week. On tour, which is three quarters of the year, we work from 12 pm to 10pm. It's quite a lot of dancing."

An ankle injury forced him to turn to choreography and he was nominated to create a work for the Place Prize. He has regularly choreographed for Rambert's Evening of New Choreography, has received numerous commissions and has just completed a two year MA Choreography degree with Central School of Ballet.

"I'm at my physical peak and approaching the end of my dancing career, but still have a few years left and hope to travel and dance wherever the moment takes me, especially in South Africa," he said. "It's such a crazy world you never can tell what lies around the corner, so lets just say I am happy where I am right now and when that changes I will move on."


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