It would seem like an outtake from a late-night variety show sketch: a dance class taught by the private chef to one of New York’s biggest fashion designers and the florist for downtown’s arguably coolest restaurant. They lead a troupe of yoga instructors, shoe designers and Greek restaurateurs — all sweating in spandex, writhing on the floor of a children’s ballet studio within a renovated Lower East Side tenement.
New York’s latest dance class is Moves, a twice-monthly gyrating bacchanalia frequented by ingénues from downtown’s fashion, art and music scenes.
It’s instructed by Lauren Gerrie, Marc Jacobs’ personal chef and cofounder of private dining enterprise Big Little Get Together, as well as Marisa Competello, founder of floral firm Meta Flora, which crafts ikebana-type architectural arrangements for Canal Street restaurant Dimes, as well as the Glossier and Rachel Comey offices.
Back from a two-year hiatus, Moves melds Britney Spears circa Onyx Hotel Tour choreography with a sweaty communal spirit.
A crowd assembles at the Chrystie Street Ballet Academy studio every other Thursday — many turning up with a buzz from nearby watering holes in an effort to lubricate the hip rolls about to conspire.
Gerrie and Competello strive to make each class approachable to a spectrum of dance aptitudes — starting each class with a rotation of cardio warm-ups then progressing into the build-up of a brief choreography routine.
Set to a poppy tune — Ariana Grande and Flume have recently been on the playlist — Gerrie (often dressed in a high-cut leotard), and Competello instruct students through a series of hip pops, coy shimmies and sharp arm articulations.
“We want to be thoughtful and it being doable, approachable and friendly. We always say it’s a safe place, and are very supportive — no one is judging and that aspect is key,” Competello said over lunch at Dimes, one of her floral arrangements dotting the restaurant’s artful landscape.
She and Gerrie, active members in the Lower East Side’s community of creatives, met in 2001 taking a dance class at Broadway Dance Center. Both were pursuing careers as professional dancers at the time.
They began Moves in 2010, as an ode to their favorite Los Angeles instructor Ryan Heffington, but took time off after 2014 as both Gerrie and Competello led hectic schedules in the aftermath of career changes — Competello from styling and Gerrie from restaurant pastry chef.
In March, the class returned with opportune timing — as a fitness and wellness obsession has swept New York, with exercise classes replacing happy hour as city dwellers’ defacto post-work routine.
For $20, Moves is priced in alliance with other dance classes. But its cachet makes the class something of a deal when compared to the $35-plus courses instructed by other buzzy names.
“I think the best part of dance is that you use every single part of your body,” Gerrie said.
“I think it’s made me who I am,” Competello said of dance. “The way I am postured, the way I walk, they way it applies to any other movement — even my work is movement half the time, and even the discipline, too, it’s been ingrained for so many years.”