Recent productions and collaborations shifted the artistic emphasis from programmes of pure dance towards dance theatre - but with mixed success, as Hughes himself will readily admit.
It was a creative itch that needed to be scratched, but in the end it proved to Hughes, and his associate director Matt Foster, the value of playing to proven strengths. Those strengths lie not just in the remarkable technique that Hughes still commands in his forties, but in his standing within the dance world.
Not many artistic directors of a small independent dance company could call up Matthew Bourne and ask if they could have a wee work for their repertoire. But Hughes has a very special Bourne connection.
In 1995, when Bourne was planning his radical version of Swan Lake he found, in his own words "two extraordinary dancers to create the role of The Swan." One was the Royal Ballet talent, Adam Cooper, and the other was Hughes, whom Bourne saw as "the reigning king of contemporary dancers. Together we made our own piece of dance history."
Hughes's own male dancers now have another piece of dance history to revel in: Bourne's first ever hit, Spitfire (1988). "We had actually put all this in place before Scottish Ballet did Highland Fling," says Foster. There is, however, no need for David Hughes Dance (DHD) to feel overshadowed by that production: few people on DHD's autumn touring circuit will have clapped eyes on the mischievous delight that is Spitfire, with its quartet of likely lads jockeying for pole position in pristine Y-fronts.
A new work by Cathy Marston, until recently director of Bern Ballet in Switzerland, is another high-profile coup - and again, a direct result of Hughes reputation going before him. Marston has set an intriguing take on aspects of Macbeth - the sleepwalking scene in particular - to music by Gorecki, with the whole company involved in expressing facets of Shakespeare's two main characters. However, it is a piece, created on Hughes for his first solo show back in 1998, that perhaps encapsulates what Foster identifies as the company's unique selling point in terms of repertoire aesthetics, technique and charismatic individuality.
The work is called Adagietto, it is danced to the Mahler music (from his Fifth Symphony) that we have come to know from the film Death In Venice and its choreographer Robert Cohan is a legend in the realm of 20th century dance-making.
He was the energising force behind the glory days of the sorely-missed London Contemporary Dance Theatre - the Arts Council of England's abrupt withdrawal of funding saw LCDT give its final performance in 1994. Though Cohan had relinquished control by then, that decision cast a dark shadow over his creativity.
Scottish Ballet fans with long-ish memories may recall a series of ballets - a full-length Midsummer Night's Dream and an Aladdin among them - that Cohan made on the company in the 1990s, but having retired to France his choreographic output lessened over time. Adagietto was a rare exception, and a mark of his regard for Hughes.
There is a merry back story to him agreeing to make the piece in the first place. When Cohan, now 88, recently came north to fine-tune the forthcoming revival of Adagietto with Hughes, he filled in the details.
Hughes had been a student at the London Contemporary School Of Dance where his physical prowess, but also his aptitude for expressive interpretation, had caught Cohan's eye. "But then he finished his training," laughs Cohan. "and we didn't have a vacancy in LCDT, so off he went. And I thought, 'That's it. I'm never going to have a chance to work with him...'
"Years later, he asked me if I would be interested in making a solo on him. He came to France and we made Adagietto. It doesn't have any high leaps, because the studio I had hired had a low roof, and the only thing in it was a chair, so we made a dance that used a chair."
In fact, the solo is a haunting vignette of loss, and of coming to terms with the memories that shape-shift from bright to dark and painful. For the young dancers sitting on the sidelines of the studio, this was a masterclass in meaningful subtlety and the profound impact of details - a murmured comment from Cohan, a shift of an angled arm by Hughes and a whole layer of emotion and motivation suddenly surfaced.
Hughes talks ardently of Cohan as the father-mentor, friend and supporter whose faith in his dance has been a life-long inspiration. With that at its heart, this new touring programme from David Hughes Dance promises to be a welcome return to pure dance form.
The David Hughes Dance tour begins at The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen, tomorrow.