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Move it and lose it: dance fitness classes do the body good

Kenneth Kynt Bryan of Dance Fitness New Orleans

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Kenneth Kynt Bryan has spent more than two decades in dance, teaching for Loyola University New Orleans, New Orleans Public Library, New Orleans Ballet Association, New Orleans School of Ballet, Fit NOLA, St. Anna's Episcopal Church and Lighthouse for the Blind. He's a dancer, choreographer, actor (who's traded lines with Robert De Niro), fitness instructor and one of the few New Orleans-based dance/electronica/house music recording artists. His skill set sounds worthy of a much larger metropolitan city, but he's happy in his native New Orleans.

 "I've taken master classes, made choreography for music videos and danced in New York and Los Angeles, but I've always felt like I have a real connection with the people here," Bryan says. "I feel it's better to give back to the community here."

 Bryan teaches twice-weekly dance fitness classes in conjunction with the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission. Dance Fitness New Orleans classes (www.facebook.com/dancefitnessneworleans) are free and encompass many genres of dance, including Latin, hip-hop, jazz and ballet.

 He also is the choreographer for Flashmob New Orleans (FNO), a medley of dancers from all movement backgrounds. FNO stages quarterly public performances around the city — the group's annual "Thriller" routine to a mashup of the Michael Jackson hit has become a Halloween tradition. Interested dancers can attend Bryan's weekly flashmob classes in advance of the fall shows (schedule and fees available at www.flashmobneworleans.com). Bryan makes the choreography accessible and entertaining for all participants.

 "I want to give all the dancers that are involved their own personal way of expressing themselves," he says. "I try to visualize a saga or some type of epic storyline."

 Movement is life for Bryan. Not only does he teach several classes per week while still finding time to record music and audition for roles in local film and TV productions (most recently on TNT's Claws), he takes at least one ballet class daily, hip-hop classes twice a week at Dancing Grounds and creates choreography to challenge himself.

 "I'm a cancer survivor, and I've learned it's important to keep your organs and your body and your mind clean and let movement be a part of who you are," he says. "I find that dance classes release tension and help balance energy."

 His students report weight loss, higher self-esteem and greater peace of mind. Bryan offers simple advice to people interested in taking a dance fitness class but wary of their abilities.

 "(People) have to learn to get over themselves and not stand in their own way or you could have that feeling (of fear) for the rest of your life," he says. "Just show up."

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