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Arlington Company Combines Vacation with Dance

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Sarah Lee Parker Mansare, leader of the Guinea trip, dances in the heart of inland Guinea (Courtesy of Megan Morrison)(Updated at 12:45 p.m.) A local company is connecting people vacationing in a different country with the area’s locals through dance.

“I really wanted to provide a way to have fun, exercise a little on vacation and bond with the locals,” said Megan Morrison, the CEO of Dance Adventures.

Dance Adventures is similar to an organized tour group visiting another country, except that it adds dance to the vacation.

Each trip has about eight to 15 people and includes classes in the local dance style, dance shows and other cultural aspects, like a traditional tour of the area. For dances that are more social, like salsa dancing, the company takes the participants to dance clubs where they can interact with locals. Each trip is lead by a certified guide, according to Dance Adventure’s website.

Morrison started Dance Adventures based off of her own experience dancing in different countries. Through dance she was able to interact with the area’s locals, despite the fact that they often didn’t speak the same language.

“Anywhere I went, I was immediately able to connect with people through dance,” she said.

She wanted to bring the experience of connecting with others without spoken language, Morrison said. She reached out to tour guides she had worked with previously, and with their help, she was able to start organizing dance trips.

The company currently leads trips to Bolivia, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Guinea and India. Tour guides are experts in the area and have often lived in the country where they lead groups, Morrison said. The local connection makes it easy for the company to find dance lessons and shows for the people to attend, she said.

Morrison said the Guinea and Dominican Republic are her favorite trips that she has gone on.

A Guinean man performs the traditional "strong man" dance: Dununba (Courtesy of Megan Morrison)

“Guinea is just so far outside of what we know as western culture,” she said. “It’s also like living in a musical. You show up at a market and start singing a song you learned and the lady selling cloth will start singing with you.”

Trips typically cost between $1,500 to $4,000 depending on the location. The total cost of the trip includes hotels, some meals, the shows, in country transportation and club entree fees. Airfare and travel insurance are not included, she said.

“The best part [about a trip] is being able to connect with local people so quickly,” Morrison said.

People do not need to be dancers to go on a Dance Adventures trip, Morrison said, adding that a trip can include more or less dance classes depending on the people in the tour group.

“For anyone who just values the arts, I think it’s a great experience,” she said.

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