How Internationally Acclaimed Dane Hurst, Danced his way out of Poverty

To escape the realities of poverty, Dane Hurst danced. Not only was he passionate about dancing, he was also good. His natural abilities saw him dancing his way from the rotting floors of Gelvandale’s dance studio, out of poverty, and onto the most prestigious stages in the world.

Dane grew up with his father in Gelvandale, who had a good job and was a proud provider. However, after his father lost his job, putting food on the table became a struggle. Dane had to witness with great difficulty how his father went from a proud provider, to a man weighed down by the reality of having lost everything.  Despite these hardships, his father always made a point of playing a tune on his guitar and filling the house with joyous music, which is where Dane got his love of music.

Dane’s love of dancing started with his grandmother, who made costumes for a local dance studio and always took him with to the studio. By watching the dancers, he became interested in dance, but at the time, dance was considered to be something that girls do. It was only when he saw a boy dance that he made up his mind that he too, would become a dancer. He started practicing at the the Toynbee Club in Gelvandale and excelled despite the building having broken windows and rotting floors.

Dane eventually went to live in a partially built house in Booysen Park with his mom, Maureen, and his three sisters. Once again, he found himself in a situation where it was a struggle to put food on the table. To get to the dance studio, he took a taxi but this made him feel guilty. Maureen was the only breadwinner and he felt that the money he spent taking the taxi was placing a financial burden on his family. He decided to quit dancing and his dream had officially come to an end.

To keep himself busiy, Dane focused on making friends with the neighbourhood kids. However, the more he saw the chaos and poverty around him, the more he longed for the dance floor. He knew that his talent as a dancer would help him escape the clutches of poverty, so he had to make some hard choices. He loved his mom, so it was with a heavy heart that he decided to leave her home and go live with his dad again. At his dad’s, he would be near the dance studio and he would not have to be a financial burden for his mom and sisters.

During the time living with his dad, one of his most heartbreaking memories was catching his mom spying on him while he was dancing at the Gelvandale studio. He called out to her, but she turned around and ran. Maureen missed him and he says that he felt like he had abandoned her but he was caught between going back to his mom and escaping poverty. Years later as an adult, he asked her why she had run away. She said that she did not want him to see her crying. However, she added that she is proud of what he had achieved.

Instead of just dancing for the sake of dancing, he became focused on turning his passion into a career that would help him earn a decent income. He started entering dancing competitions and being a gifted dancer, won quite a few of them. He saved up the money he won and started planning on going abroad where he could pursue a career in dancing. At the time, he did not know that one could get a bursary to train as a dancer, so it came as a surprise to him when one of his dancing classmates got one. Dane quickly changed his plans and became obsessively focused on getting a bursary.

Dane’s obsessive focus led him to achieve a level of greatness that not even he could have predicted. He went on to win South Africa’s national dance competition in 2002 which helped him get a bursary to train at London’s Rambert School in 2003. In the UK, he won the Barbera Geoghegan Award  runner-up prize for classical ballet, received another bursary when he joined the UK’s Rambert Dance Compay in 2004, was nominated as the UK’s best emerging dancer of the year in 2006, and received the Spotlight Dancer of the Year award by the UK’s Critics Circle Dance Awards. He was voted 3rd in Dance Europe Magazine’s 2012 Top 100 Dancers (as voted for by an international jury of dance writers and critics), was nominated for Outstanding Modern Performance in 2013, and in 2014, he received the Best Male Dancer of the Year award by the Critic’s Circle National Dance Awards in the U.K. The Critics Circle awards usually goes to more classical dancers, so Dane is one of the very few modern dancers to have received this award.

Dane’s professioinal CV includes being the lead dancer in some of the top productions in the world. He is one of the most critically acclaimed dancers in the world, with critcis referring to his performances as perfectly executed, delicately precise, a tour de force and with jumps that defies belief, However, the career of a dancer is very short, so Dane has spread his wings into areas that would ensure that he could use his talents well into his retirement years.

In addition to being an acclaimed dancer, he is also an acclaimed choreographer and director. His award winning choreography works is too long to list, but they include works at the Rampert, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Royal Opera House, and closer to home, at the Genocide Memorial Theatre in Rwanda and the Artscape in Cape Town. He choreographed and starred in the award winning short film, Primitive, and starred in several artistic dance films for Europeam television. He is both the director and choreographer of the opera’s, ‘Sacred Mountain’ and ‘Citizens of Nowhere’ In 2016, in yet another artistic triump, he launced his first full body of moving art works to critical acclaim and sold out crowds. This is of course, not the end of his list of achievements.

While building his reputation as an acclaimed choreographer and director, he completed a Masters degree in Choreography from the University of Kent in the UK and he launched his own artistic school in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The school, which is called the Moving Assembly Project, is not for profit and is solely aimed at empowering youth from disadvantaged backgrounds. It has already empowered hundreds of youth and has partnerships with non profit organisations all over the world.

Throughout this story, it was not mentioned that Dane is only 34. So, the story ends like this. Dane Hurst was a kid that came from poverty, decided to escape it, and by the age of 34, he had won multiple international competitions, got his Masters degree, won several international awards, starred in internationally critically acclaimed plays, became a internationally critically acclaimed choreographer, internationally critically acclaimed director, internationally critically acclaimed artist, and launched his own internationally recognized dance studio. At the age of 34, the young Dane Hurst achieved all of this, and he is far from done.


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