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Dane Hurst to be new artistic director of Phoenix

Posted on December 9, 2020

Dane Hurst headshot. Photo by Pierre Tapon

Choreographer and dancer Dane Hurst has been appointed the new artistic director of Phoenix Dance Theatre. Hurst will be the eighth artistic director of Phoenix, and takes up the mantle from Sharon Watson who departed the company in May 2020. Hurst takes up the role in early 2021, ahead of the company’s 40th birthday in November.

Hurst, who is currently the associate artist in residence at Jazzart Dance Theatre and artistic director and founder of the Moving Assembly Project, is a multi-award-winning director, choreographer and dancer. Born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, he trained at Rambert School in London, supported by a Nelson Mandela/Linbury Trust scholarship in 2003, and later joined Rambert Dance Company as the first recipient of the Sally Gilmour memorial trust bursary in 2004.

As a dancer, he has made guest appearances with National Dance Company of Wales and Company Wayne McGregor, and was a company dancer for Phoenix from 2007 to 2009. His career as a dancer has garnered him several accolades and critical acclaim, both nationally and internationally. He won the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards twice: first in 2006 in the Spotlight Dancer of the Year category and again in 2014, winning the Best Male Dancer of the Year Award.

As a choreographer, he has been commissioned by a wide variety of companies and organisations including Rambert, The Place Prize, The Barbican, RichMix, InTransit Festival, Dulwich Picture Gallery, Whitechapel Gallery and Wilton’s Music Hall. He has performed his choreographic works at venues across the UK, including Sadler’s Wells, Robin Howard Theatre, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Royal Opera House, Wilton’s Music Hall, The Commonwealth Institute, Hall for Cornwall – Truro and The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon.

Hurst said: “I am honoured and humbled to take up the role of artistic director for the powerhouse of contemporary dance that is Phoenix Dance Theatre. I have followed the Phoenix trajectory since being a part of the company from 2007 to 2009. My aim is to celebrate and build upon the foundations laid and successes achieved under the visionary founders and previous directors. As the company approaches its 40th anniversary, there’s a huge amount to celebrate and recognise, not least its rich and expansive history, standing as a beacon of light within the arts and culture industry, championing diversity and achieving excellence.

“I aspire to serve the company to the best of my abilities and to use my experience and history to elevate and creatively lead the company into the future. My mission is to honour and protect the legacy, respecting the traditions and maintaining the spirit and urgency out of which the company was created in 1981. My ultimate vision is for Phoenix Dance Theatre to be a burning light that sparks our energies and ignites the fires of our imagination and for that to be offered to our audiences here in the UK, as well as shared on the world stage, as a representation of a vibrant and multi-cultural Britain of today.”

Pamela Doherty, chair of the board of trustees, said: “Dane Hurst is an internationally renowned talent with an extraordinary vision for the company. It’s difficult to imagine a better leader to stand at the helm of the company as it embarks upon a new chapter and prepares for its 40th birthday year. We’re honoured to have him return to Phoenix and we know that his tremendous talent, innovative thinking and inspiring energy will take the company to new heights and invigorate the wider dance sector. We’re waiting with anticipation and excitement to see what his directorship will bring.”

Pictured: Dane Hurst. Photograph: Pierre Tapon.

Nicola Rayner was editor of Dance Today from 2010 to 2015. She has written for a number of publications including The Guardian, The Independent and Time Out Buenos Aires, where she cut her teeth as a dance journalist working on the tango section. Today she continues to dance everything from ballroom to breakdance, with varying degrees of success. Her debut novel, The Girl Before You, was published last year in paperback, ebook and audiobook.

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