Dance studio

New dance studio in Morehead City

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 from the big cities and moving there.

Over the past year, the area has seen a handful of new businesses pop up as more residents move in.

What do you want to know

Morehead City has become more popular as people move out of bigger towns during the pandemic

New businesses spring up, including Lynette Johnson’s dance and fitness studio

Johnson left New York when COVID-19 hit

Dancers are excited to resume classes in person instead of dancing on Zoom

Lynette Johnson owns one such business. She had been looking to turn a space into a dance and fitness studio for ten years, and now that goal is a reality.

“It was so exciting,” Johnson said. “I had a friend come over the other day and she was like ‘how are you.’ And I got so choked up because it’s a dream come true.

The View at Sugarloaf is Johnson’s newly opened studio and the place where she holds weekly dance and fitness classes for all ages.

The view at Sugarloaf in Morehead City

“It just helps your presence in the world to be physically fit and to make dancing part of your life,” Johnson said.

Johnson used to teach dance at East Carolina University, but eight years ago she moved to New York 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 big 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 was like last year. “I think people in North Carolina can’t quite understand how densely populated New York is.”

Johnson said it 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 seems that over the past few years, and especially during COVID-19, the area has started to thrive. New businesses are springing up and more and more people are moving in. Johnson is thrilled that her studio is part of this growth.

Timur Burtasemkov leads the warm-ups before the dance class

“I could never see myself living here permanently, you know, digging my soul into the dirt here,” Johnson said. “And all of a sudden, I just feel like this invigorating energy in all of this downtown Morehead City.”

However, even in Morehead City, it was difficult to be an artist in a closed world.

“It all happened through Zoom classes,” said Timur Burtasemkov, a professional dancer from the Soviet Union. “As teachers, we would be at home playing music, give the combination and everyone would dance.”

Burtasemkov is the founder of 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 ourselves happy. Basically, it’s a wonderful physical art,” Burtasemkov said.

Timur Burtasemkov teaches a ballet in intensive dance partnership

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 that people just love the dance.”

Johnson opened classes to the public in June. She offers beginner and advanced dance classes, fitness classes and camps for kids and even has event space in her studio for rent. The class schedule is on their website at