James Marc Beatty — a popular South Florida dance and fitness instructor known as Jay Marcos — died early Sunday after losing brain function, close friends say.
He died surrounded by loved ones at Mercy Hospital in Miami. He was 43.
“It was abrupt. He started feeling badly, went into the hospital and then his blood pressure shot up. Soon after, he had no brain function. It happened out of nowhere,” said Marilyn Samlut, who said doctors removed him from life support. She and her husband, Carlos, and daughter, Ashleigh, were Marcos’ closest friends and were considered family.
The entertainer, entrepreneur and local philanthropist was mostly known for his program called Videosync— an approach to extreme fitness and mental wellness through synchronized dancing.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
But students and family say the program brought more than just fresh dance moves.
“It was a place where you can be reborn,’’ Samlut said. “You come in for dance, and leave with your soul uplifted.”
As part of the program — taught at several studios across Miami-Dade, Broward and Boca Raton — various flash dance mobs were orchestrated at the University of Miami, Miami Art Museum, Art Basel, Lincoln Road and several local shopping malls.
A New York native, Marcos started his career as a street performer. He later modeled on fashion runways for Wilhelmina Models and Michele Pommier Models. He then began appearing in music videos and commercials for celebrities and companies like Christina Aguilera, Mary J. Blige, Ricky Martin, Kellogg's and L’Oréal. Marcos also collaborated with choreography teams for JaQuel Knight and Darrin Henson.
He moved to South Florida about 20 years ago and lived in Coconut Grove.
Marcos’ silhouette was one of the firsts to be featured on InterContinental Miami’s 200-foot dancing holograms on the city’s skyline. The hotel will display the hologram on the side of its building, 100 Chopin Plaza, from Monday to Wednesday.
But those achievements were not his greatest moments, Marcos said in a 2012 video.
“I helped one lady lose 140 pounds. That’s what I’m what I’m most proud of,” he said. “I helped a 16-year-old stop cutting herself — she made it to 17.”
Marcos was heavily involved in local charities, among them: UM’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Chapman Partnership and Breakthrough Miami, as well as after-school care programs for at-risk middle schools.
“He was a giver,” Samlut said. “I think that he came into this world just for that purpose. He may have started off as as dancer but then his soul navigated him to a path that encompassed way more than that.”
Students say it was Marcos’ upbeat and high-energy courses, combined with passion and motivation for the arts, that resonated so deeply with dancers.
“I lived in Miami for four years and I was extremely depressed due to personal issues,” said former dance student Jennifer Dietrich in an email. “His classes were the shining light of many dark days.”
Another student, Temple Beth Am Rabbi Rachel Greengrass, said it took “a diagnosis of having breast cancer for me to begin searching for a way to feel complete and to seek out healing.”
“I was blessed enough to be cured by my doctor but I still had not been healed until I met Jay Marcos,” Greengrass said in a video about Marcos’ program. “It was the first time in a long time that I got to dance again. I’m so grateful to all of these women who dance with me every week and make me feel whole again.”
Dancer and friend Jaimie Shepard told the Miami Herald Sunday that Marcos’ goal was to “boost self esteem through dance.”
“He created a safe place where he always motivated you. You felt like you weren’t a bad dancer, but an incredible dancer. You’re not heavy— you’re gorgeous, you’re worth it. His words really resonated with people. They really knew that he was going to help make a difference in their lives.”
As far as Marcos’ age, his close friends said he was adamant about not disclosing it.
“He loves the fact that people still carded him,” Samlut said.
Echoed another friend: “Let’s just say he was timeless.”
Marcos is survived by two brothers, Sean and Jeremy Beatty. Their parents predeceased them.
A funeral service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at Temple Beth Am, at 5950 N. Kendall Dr. in Pinecrest. Following will be a burial at Mount Nebo/Kendall Memorial Gardens Cemetery at 5505 NW Third St.
Marcos’ family has created a GoFundMe account. To donate, click here.