I have been watching Mark Osmundson on the social feeds for a while now, his enthusiasm and love for life can be incredibly intoxicating without coming off as preachy or annoying. I believe it's due to his persona forming from a truly genuine solo. He is an incredibly talented dance artist working across a number of disciplines including ballet, burlesque, and hip-hop.
He has cemented himself as a rising talent in the New York scene, performing in over 300 Off-Broadway shows, danced for the Metropolitan Opera and traveled the world in the few short years of his blooming career. He is currently performing in the sexually diverse and raunchy burlesque show Ferdinand at the Company XIV Theater in Brooklyn. While talented dancers are abundant in New York, Osmundson has had the stroke of genius to diversify his array of skills, branching out as a fitness experience creator and model.
But underneath the vale of promising success, Osmundson has a witty personality and powerful message about body positive, to unravel shame around SEX. His Instagram feed bares a lot of skin and the self-confessed compassionate ho is changing the perceptions of 'sexual-freedom' one underwear pic at a time. All jokes aside, Mark Osmundson's dose an amazing job of challenging the ideas of gender identity and sexual fluidity. We can all learn valuable lessons from this talented artist, willingness to trust his instinct and let his passion dictate his next step forward. We took a moment Osmundson to discuss his career, the stigma around sex and body positivity.
1. Firstly, can you give us a break down of your career progression up until now? How do you go from your studies at Marymount Manhattan College to performing for the prince of Saudi Arabia (which is very cool)?
Ha! Well, it’s been a really interesting and exciting journey, and LISTENING has been one of the most important things I’ve learned. I actually started college at Fordham University pursuing Journalism which just didn’t work out. I dropped out an found Marymount and through a series of unconventional circumstances at the school, I ended up getting into the Dance Department and received my BFA and formal dance training. From there, I went on to tour 4 continents and perform in over 300 performances Off-Broadway in New York as well as dancing for The Metropolitan Opera, modeling for numerous publications, and now launching my own Fitness brand. A life really does take time to become.
2. You wear many hats in your different career paths, spanning across performance, dance, modeling, and fitness. As a young creative do you need to diversify your career to stay relevant and profitable?
I suppose that’s DEFINITElY true, but for me, I’ve focused more on following what excites and interests me. Sometimes I have the tendency to take on too many hats, but it comes from a real curiosity that I have for all the mediums and industries I work in. As long as I stay curious and interested, I know that I’ll be led in the right direction and I try not to force anything that just isn’t a good fit.
3. How do you manage the different directions of your professional life?
Because my career has blossomed to encompass so many different industries and mediums, I can get easily worn out, frustrated, or impatient. However, I have to let all that go and just make sure to set clear intentions for myself, envision and be clear with what I put into the universe, and always approach my work through love.
4. How do you maintain balance, if any, in your demanding schedule?
The balance has certainly proved to be a bit challenging at times (sometimes, I can’t remember my last day off) but I try to stay focused on gratitude and just accepting the long days and hours. I’m a compulsive over-scheduler because what I do excites me, and I always think that I can do it all. I’m working on this, and working on being able to say no and not make myself feel bad about it. I can’t do everything, and I have to give time to focus on what is currently on my plate and to make space for other experiences to come into my life. I’ve made it a goal to stay present more in exactly what I’m doing, and spend less of that time constantly thinking about what’s next.
5. Having any level of success takes a lot of hard work and grit, do you have any spiritual practice that helps keep you grounded and focused?
I have a really special spiritual practice. Not special in the way that it’s unique but special in that it’s very important to me. I meditate as much as possible, lately, I’ve been able to work time in to meditate every day. I also like reading works by incredible spiritual leaders like Abraham Hicks and Depak Chopra, and listen to a lot of podcasts (Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations is my favorite!) The more time that goes by, the more that it’s important to me to take time for myself, to find my breath, and to tap into my source energy that is beyond the earthly work and life that I’m living. I frequently Center myself on the thought that I am more than just this body, and to understand that I am a soul-connected to every other soul and built from a foundation of loving-kindness. Truly to be more connected to “God” or whatever you want to call this “source”, we have to first be connected with yourself and with the planet.
6. Can you run us through a typical week in the life of Mark?
Well, every week is different, depending on rehearsal/show schedules, which can be very exciting! I teach SLT tues and weds mornings in Soho, and teach Barre for FitHouse Mon-Weds nights. Rehearsing w XIV or The Met is usually early afternoon and if I’m in a show schedule I perform Thurs-Sun. During the week, I’ll also take my own personal clients and work in photo shoots, auditions, and other commercial work. It’s definitely a lot, but it’s fun!
7. Where did your love for dance, movement, and performance develope and have you always wanted to be a professional performer?
Well, I can distinctly remember watching music videos when I was younger, loving Michael Jackson, and telling my parents- I want to do that! But dancing came a little later, I started acting in plays and had agents for commercial work around the Midwest well before dance came into the picture. I always danced but it wasn’t the biggest passion in my life, I just loved performing. Whether it was public speaking as class president in high school (lol true story), or reading dramatic scripts alone in my bedroom, I have always been drawn to the excitement of putting myself out there. When I started my professional training in college is when I really fell in love with dance. I was spoiled in NY and got to constantly see the work of some of my idols like Pina Bausch and Crystal Pite, and got to learn how complex and special the dance world is. During this time I knew that I wanted to perform, and the love has only grown from there.
8. Can you tell us more about Movement Culture Co and why you started the business?
Yes, please! I started my own company, Movement Culture Co because I wanted to change the dynamic of what is currently available in fitness. While everyone is so focused on being the “biggest brand” or the “toughest workout”, I wanted to focus on creating an intimate relationship with those that come to class. In fact, I don’t even brand it as a class, I prefer to use the term movement experience because it’s more than just a workout. I want people to change the way they talk to themselves, to enjoy sweating...and to still get a really good workout in.
9. Can you tell us how you become involved with Cyberobics?
Cyberobics came into my life in a really beautiful time. My career was blossoming in fitness and I wanted to move into doing more video work. I was just invited to an audition and met with the producers a few times and they decided they wanted me to create a workout. It was a really amazing experience and I have so much love for this company, it was a crazy time shooting such a huge project like that. (There was a crew of about 40 people and just me behind the camera!) My workout for them, “Stage Fever” will be available on their platform later this year.
10. The show Boylesque Bullfight, that you feature in, has a strong burlesque focus, with a enforces on sexuality and the blending of gender identities and context. As a performer do you find it easy to transition between gender identity and how does this fluidity show up in your personal life?
As a performer for Austin McCormick and his Company XIV, I find it very easy and incredibly fun to constantly transition between the two. In fact, it has always been one of my favorite things about his work. I love wearing whatever I want, most of my own personal clothes have been found in the “women’s” racks of boutiques and vintage stores. I love toying with my duality (just got a new tattoo expressing it actually) and I believe that we don’t have to choose whether we’re “masculine” or “feminine”. Our brains are constantly trying to classify things, and society is always putting us in boxes, but when you strip all that away-we are actually infinite. We can do anything and be anything we want, that includes indulging in our fantasies and feeling our desires. I think it’s more fun to release our labels, and I prefer to explore all realms of the human experience.
11. We love you inst bio comment 'Ho, but make it COMPASSION' and your social feed presents a strong position on sex positivity. Do you actively present your self in this manner or is it something that comes naturally as a part of your personality?
Ha! First of all, THANK YOU for appreciating that bio. I would certainly call myself sex-positive, but beyond that my stance is more on releasing shame. There’s an overwhelming amount of trauma in our society over shame, and shame with sex. And I just don’t think we have to feel this, in fact, I KNOW, we don’t have to feel this. We put the shame on ourselves, or take our shame and project it on to others. My boyfriend and I are always super honest with each other, I guess some people would call us open-but we just made a pact that neither one of us should ever feel shame. We’ve both grown up gay in a world where some have chosen to ostracize us, but that has nothing to do with us and everything to do with them. We don’t have to feel any shame anymore, no matter what. There’s too much pain already, and I just don’t believe that we need to create any more, whatever works for you is great, but be honest with yourself and find partners that are on the same page so that no one creates hurt.
12. What are the biggest social courses you are currently passionate about?
I’m passionate about creating a larger consciousness throughout this country and abroad. The political mess has gotten out of control, and the only way we can fix it is to start treating each other with more compassion and kindness and direct all of the corruption out-to replace it with people who actually care about their constituents. The corporate greed is a real issue, the income divide, the racism, the sexism, police brutality... it’s all connected and it’s all based in fear. If we can break through the fear, gain a greater consciousness that money and greed shouldn’t direct our lives, and that treating others (and ourselves) with the same loving kindness, we can change our planet. There are so many lies constantly being spat out by the media and politicians trying to keep people in fear (because the more they fear-the more they’re controlled). If we can break through to some of the communities in this country that are believing the lies, through love rather than aggressive speech, we can create a better world for all.
14. What projects are you currently working that have you really excited?
I’m opening up the newest production, Samson, and Dalila, with The Metropolitan Opera this fall! It’s been a lot of work, but getting to work with director Darko Tresnjak has been incredible. The production is beautiful and it’s a real blessing getting to be dancing upon the Lincoln Center stage once again.
I’m also launching more Movement Culture programming and excited to see where it takes off. Sometimes it’s the unknown that excites me the most.