From psychology professors to international dance stars, the new Chief Executive of One Dance UK Andrew Hurst reflects on those who inspire him.

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When I started thinking about who my gurus might be, it came as a pleasant surprise that there were recurring themes: diversity in its many forms, dance changing the lives of young people, education, exposure to different cultures, and developing people in general.

Here are a few of the people who have inspired me the most.

Sir Ken Robinson KBE

Always an inspirational speaker and a tireless champion for creativity in education, Sir Ken brings his arguments to life in a genuine, engaging and truly accessible way. His book ‘The Element’ inspired my Masters research thesis.

At One Dance UK, as I become more and more deeply involved in dance education, and in the debate around its place in a broad and balanced curriculum, my admiration for both his passion and his approach to current thinking on creativity continues to grow.

Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic PhD and Dr. Gorkan Ahmetoglu PhD

These two psychology professors and experts in personality are the co-creators of META (the measure of entrepreneurial talent and abilities). I met Tomas through the Psychometrics Forum and we got talking initially because of a shared connection to Argentina. I met Gorkan, an ex-professional footballer, soon after.

They shared with me the means they have developed for measuring behavioural outcomes, which is so important in dance education, throughout the wider community, and also in developing individuals in the work place. Both their generosity and endless curiosity leave me feeling excited and inspired every time I talk with them.

Tamara Rojo CBE

Tamara has been incredibly impressive in her transition from star performer into leader, becoming an inspirational and strong female voice in a sector often dominated by men. This is impressive enough, but I particularly admire and respect her sharp intelligence, wit, drive, and commitment.

The impact she has had on English National Ballet’s development since becoming Artistic Director, and the invaluable voice she continues to bring to the entire sector, are truly inspiratonal. One Dance UK is privileged that Tamara continues to be our on Board of Trustees.

Carlos Acosta CBE

Carlos was a role model for me as young dancer and I can think of few who set a better example, especially for young dancers from less privileged backgrounds. I have huge respect for him as an artist, and perhaps even more so as a human being. His generosity and charm are infectious, and he is one of the humblest and most grounded ‘stars’ I have ever met.

One of the proudest moments of my career so far was taking The Royal Ballet on tour to Cuba in 2009 – bringing Carlos back home with his extended family. This was the beginning of an ongoing love affair with Cuba and its culture. His most recent projects are providing opportunities for talented young Cuban dancers, and creating a lasting legacy at his International Centre for Dance, inspiring emerging talent in Cuba.

Some shall remain nameless

There are other individuals whom I have chosen not to name, but who have had an equally significant impact on my career. They know who they are.

As a dancer, it was a teacher who encouraged me to stick with my training when I was struggling to return to dance after surgery; a choreographer who saw my potential as a young graduate in a ballet company, which sent my career off in a different direction as a contemporary dancer; and a few others who pushed me to test my boundaries.

Through my career transition I was fortunate enough to have two personal mentors. The first through Dance UK’s pilot mentoring scheme in 2007. The other, less formally, took a keen interest in my studies, gave me opportunities to apply my new knowledge once I had completed my degree, and has gone on to be a confidant and adviser as well as a friend, more than ten years later.

My parents

Throughout my life, my parents have been the gurus who have had the most lasting impact, encouraging me to explore and experience different countries and cultures. As I get older I appreciate and value more what I learnt from them. They gave me an amazing blend of a calm and collected problem-solving approach, with a genuine interest and concern for the welfare of those around me.

Andrew Hurst is Chief Executive of One Dance UK.

One Dance UK’s U.Dance Youth Dance Festival 2016 is at the Lowry in Salford from 8-12 July

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