The town of Morehead City on the North Carolina coast has become a popular destination not only for summer vacations, but also for people moving out of the big cities and settling in.
Over the past year, the region has seen a handful of new businesses appear as more residents move in.
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Morehead City became more popular as people left major cities during the pandemic
New businesses are emerging, including Lynette Johnson’s dance and fitness studio
Johnson left New York when COVID-19 hit
Dancers are happy to resume classes in person instead of dancing on Zoom
Lynette Johnson owns one of these businesses. She had been looking for ten years to transform a space into a dance and fitness studio, and now that goal is a reality.
“It’s so exciting,” Johnson said. “I took a friend out the other day and she said ‘how are you’. And I got so choked because it’s a dream come true.
The View at Sugarloaf is Johnson’s newly opened studio and the place where she gives weekly dance and fitness classes for all ages.
“It helps with your just being in the world to be physically fit and to make dancing a part of your life,” Johnson said.
Johnson taught dance at East Carolina University, but eight years ago moved to New York City where she taught dance and fitness classes with the Broadway Dance Center. Things were going well until COVID-19 hit. Due to the pandemic, many people living in large cities have decided to move to smaller, more rural areas to get away from the crowds.
“It was so bad,” Johnson said, describing what New York City looked like last year. “I think the people of North Carolina can’t quite understand how dense the population is in New York City.”
Johnson said that was one of the reasons she decided to set up her studio in Morehead City. There is a lot more space to spread out.
It appears that in recent years, and especially during COVID-19, the region has started to prosper. New businesses are emerging and more and more people are setting up shop. Johnson is thrilled that her studio is a part of this growth.
“I could never see myself living here all the time, you know, burying my soul in the dirt here,” Johnson said. “And all of a sudden, I just want that boost of energy all over downtown Morehead City.”
However, even in Morehead City, it was difficult to be an artist in a closed world.
“Everything went through the Zoom classes,” said Timur Bourtasemkov, a professional dancer from the Soviet Union. “As a teacher, we would be at home playing music, giving the combination and everyone dancing. “
Bourtasemkov is the founder of the Carolina Ballet and currently dances with the Cary Ballet Company. Years ago he met Johnson while teaching dance classes at ECU.
“We dance when we are happy, and we dance when we are not happy to make us happy. Basically it’s a wonderful physical art, ”said Bourtasemkov.
Bourtasemkov and Johnson are happy to be back with the students and doing what they love.
“It’s not competitive, I want everyone to feel loved,” Johnson said. “I think it’s important for people to love dancing.”
Johnson opened classes to the public in June. She offers dance lessons for beginners and advanced, fitness classes and camps for kids and even has event space for rent in her studio. The class schedule is on their website at theviewatsugarloafmc.com.