Our Stories - Andrew Hurst

Andrew is a former professional dancer and now Chief Executive of dance industry body One Dance UK. With DCD's support, Andrew completed a Masters in Cultural Management.

I danced professionally for 15 years with Basel Ballet, Ballet Gulbenkian, Nederlands Dans Theater 2, Berlin Ballet, and Rambert, touring the world performing in theatres on every continent. I have a lifelong love of languages and learning, and a passion for personal and professional development. I was General Manager and then Executive Director of Phoenix Dance; and Company & Tour Manager of The Royal Ballet. I have been a trustee of the Dancers’ Pension Scheme and the Council for Dance Education and Training. I am now Chief Executive of One Dance UK, Chairman of Company Chameleon, and Vice-Chair of ArtsDepot.

I started thinking about a life and career beyond dance before I even got my first job! I have always been interested in lots of different things, and it took me quite a long time to narrow down my options. I did an Economics foundation course with the Open University, then went on to study Business, and eventually decided it was actually Management I was most interested in. I was an Equity Deputy, and had a keen interest in improving working conditions for dancers. I considered going into HR, and took on personnel administration for Rambert for a while. When one of the Rehearsal Directors left suddenly, myself and two other senior dancers took on a three-way job share with me doing the office-based admin and management of the dancers, and the other two taking on the studio-based duties. I was selected for DanceUK’s pilot mentoring scheme, and was matched with Nigel Hinds who helped me focus and explore the careers I was considering in order to narrow down my options. I was also encouraged by Amanda Jones (on placement with Rambert at the time) to consider writing a Personal Development Plan, which I did and shared with my employers, friends and family. I had knee surgery and decided that was life giving me a push and telling me it was time to stop.

I got DCD support for a retraining plan I had put together for myself: a Masters in Cultural Policy and Management at City University part time; the AMA Executive Retreat; and qualifications to use psychometrics and coaching for career counselling. I did the Clore Short Course and the Centre for Charity Effectiveness course for Aspiring Chief Executives. I became One Dance UK’s first Chief Executive in April 2016.

I recently gave my 5 top tips at DCD’s Evolve event and these are based on what I learnt:

  • Don’t worry or be afraid if you don’t know what you want to do, or feel a bit lost at times – this is a normal part of the process and will pass

  • Explore, investigate, and grab opportunities to get experience in other areas of work – ask people if you can shadow them, if they need help or volunteers for projects

  • Don’t be afraid to ask, for help or advice – most people are more than happy to talk about their own career path, what they do and don’t like about their job, what skills are needed

  • Consider making a plan – a Personal or Professional Development Plan is effectively a strategic approach to your development, looking at where you are now, where you want to be, and breaking this down into the steps, resources and help you will need to get there

  • Think big/dream big –dancers know how to work hard, focus and apply themselves to whatever they choose to do, so you will make a success of whatever you choose and it’s more about choosing the thing that will give you most satisfaction!

To find out more about how we can help you, please contact Ellen Chambers, Grants and Careers Officer on ellen@thedcd.org.uk or 020 7831 1449.

You can support a dancer like Andrew to navigate career transition through the boundless appeal

"Don’t worry or be afraid if you don’t know what you want to do, or feel a bit lost at times – this is a normal part of the process and will pass."