Dallas Theater Center Wants to Make You a Singular, Healthier Sensation

It's Monday. The weekend went by too fast, and you're not jazzed about being back at work. You started your countdown to 5 p.m. the moment you walked in. But when 5 hits, you don't really want to go straight home, and you did make that new year's resolution to work out more. The idea of going to the gym and running on the treadmill next to a gym rat is depressing. Or worse, you'll be stuck next to a Chatty Cathy who wants to talk about leggings. Also, the music at the gym sucks.

Well, the Dallas Theater Center has just the thing to pull you from your slump, and it involves a little song and dance -- because that makes everything better.

No, seriously. It does.

Led by DTC associate artistic director Joel Ferrell, their new Broadway Butt Buster class, which started this past Monday, is a playful, energetic workout that kept me smiling through a cold, blustery day. The class mixes cardio with traditional jazz dance and Broadway-style choreography, so not only are you getting your heart rate up, you're also learning dance steps that you haven't done in years, or perhaps they're totally new to you. Ferrell cleverly gets you shimmying and shaking without you realizing that you're step-touching and jazz-squaring yourself into a sweat. I loved it. My thighs are still burning from the repeated flicks and kicks.

The one-hour class starts off with muscle lengthening stretches and builds into a cardio exercise set to a medley of Broadway songs (singing along is totally acceptable), followed by learning and dancing to combinations created by Ferrell. The first class included songs from Bring It On, Hairspray and Dreamgirls, and the corresponding combinations will be repeated each week. But don't worry if you missed the first class, the phrases will be reviewed and you can ask as many questions as you want. This class is about working out and having fun, not about freaking out over technique and steps. New combinations will also be taught each week, and all levels are welcomed and encouraged.

The vibe was super fun -- Ferrell has great energy -- and the people in the class were there to dance, not impress, which is a nice change from other adult dance classes I have been a part of. Everyone in the class was down for the experience and ready to shake their hips. Yes, guys too! Men can and should take this class; the guys that were there on Monday killed it!

But allow me to get a little scientific here, and down to what you are really wondering: Will this class work me out? The answer is yes. Dance targets the smaller proprioceptive muscles that you don't use when doing traditional cardiovascular exercise, strength training, weight lifting or yoga. Dance is full body. It requires you to engage all of your muscles at once to pull your center up and in. It focuses your attention on alignment, which is beneficial outside of the studio. A straight back, lowered shoulders and an expanded rib cage will make you look taller, relieve tension and help you breathe easier.

Dance also boosts your brainpower, which might be helpful after a long day at work. It targets your hippocampus, the part of your brain that controls learning and memory, and your frontal cortex, the part that gives you the capacity to focus and multitask. Who knew that a dance party could do all of that? Plus, we all have an inner theater kid just waiting to burst into song and dance. Broadway Butt Buster gives you the chance to feed your dance hunger, have a good time and work out.

I'm still singing and dancing along to "Good Morning Baltimore." When I got home after the first class, I immediately taught my boyfriend the phrase we'd learned. The cat even joined in, punctuating Tracy Turnblad with meows.

If you're interested in signing up for the entire workshop, registration is open today. The class will run every Monday from 5:30-6:30 p.m. until March 2 at the Wyly Theatre (if there is a location change, you will be contacted by DTC by email to let you know where to go). But if you're not ready to commit yourself to every Monday until March, they have a drop-in rate of $20 per class. Options! Who doesn't love options?

The Dallas Theater Center suggests arriving a bit early, say 5:15 p.m., to sign in and stretch, because the class starts right away.