Donuts to Dancer

Join Mark Morris Dance Group's New Marketing Manager Brenton Chapman as he discovers all the Dance Center has to offer.

I’m on my second week as an employee of the Mark Morris Dance Group, and I am already entranced by the culture of movement around me. As a 35-year-old man I’ve had my ups and downs with fitness and my relationship to my body; the careless, lithe body of a teenager gave way to the thickening adulthood of my mid-twenties. By the time I was approaching 30, overweight and out of shape, I realized it was time to get serious about taking care of my body.

Throughout my fitness journey, I have skirted around full commitment but tried out many things. I've followed fitness blogs' advice for the gym all while fantasizing about having the kind of lean, muscular body I see so often on Instagram. I've lifted weights and made half-hearted attempts to increase my cardiovascular health. An interest in mixed martial arts, from watching too much UFC, put the idea in my head that I could drop into a grappling gym, where I was repeatedly smashed into the mat in a sad puddle of my own sweat by guys 10 years younger and phenomenally stronger than I am. I got into cycling for a while when I lived in Los Angeles, and trained for a couple long-form charity rides. But overall, nothing has really stuck; nothing has motivated me enough to change my entire lifestyle, from the things I eat down to daily commitment to my own body. And so I’ve been stuck at a middling weight and shape, watching trending hashtags on Twitter to see if having a #Dadbod was still a thing.

I moved to New York City just about six months ago, and the time out of work didn’t do me any favors. The stress of a big city job hunt saw me binge eating and skipping the gym for weeks at a time, all the while staring at myself in the mirror and declaring “It’s not that bad!”. Then I got hired as the marketing manager for the Mark Morris Dance Group, and I suddenly realized; yes, it’s that bad.

It’s not just that my dress shirts are uncomfortably tight in all the wrong ways or that my work pants seem to have mysteriously shrunk during the move to New York, but that I now work in a building where the greatest modern dancers in the world rehearse daily. With studios rented out to other performing artists of the New York dance community, a full schedule of dance classes covering a wide range from Afro-Haitian to ballet, and nearly everyone working in the office coming from a dance background, I am surrounded by a culture of people who have dedicated so much of their lives and their energy to the use and care of their bodies.

So this is it! It’s time that I go all in and become a walking, talking part of my work community. I am going to say yes to everything that the Mark Morris Dance Center has to offer in ways of classes (at least those not meant for advanced and professional dancers, of which there are many); be it African dance, MindBodyDancer® Yoga, ballet, or Zumba. I’m going to commit to a diet and work every day towards keeping up with the dancers I see.

Because throughout this journey so far, I’ve met body builders, professional fighters, cycling masters and rock climbers, but I haven’t met anyone that I can say is as lean, healthy, and strong as a professional dancer. I took my first yoga class last night here at the Mark Morris Dancer Center, and though pouring sweat and groaning as I activated my stiff-as-an-office-desk body for the first time in months, I can’t wait to try out my next class.

Check out what classes are offered at the Mark Morris Dance Center and join me on this journey! 


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