While first living abroad, Megan saw the best way to connect to local culture was through the local people. And the best way to connect to local people was through dance.
Since that time, Megan has danced abroad in 10 countries around the globe including Australia, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Guinea (West Africa), France, Sweden and more. She believes that movement is one of the most powerful ways to build cross-cultural friendships.
Megan holds a B.A. in International Affairs and French from the University of Puget Sound and a Masters in Journalism from Northwestern University. She loves designing experiences that allow Dance Adventures’ participants to consciously dig into different cultures and believes that cultural immersion creates empowering shifts in people’s lives.
In her own dance career, Megan is most passionate about dances of the swing era. She teaches, performs and competes in lindy hop, blues, collegiate shag and balboa at events across the United States.
Melaina is a dancer, life coach, and international educator living in Boston, Massachusetts. Based in Latin America for seven years, Melaina specializes in Cuban Salsa, Argentine Tango, and Brazilian Dança de Salão. Melaina completed her Master’s in Peace, Conflict, and Security as a Rotary World Peace Fellow in Argentina, and is passionate about cross-cultural communication and conflict transformation. She has seen the transformative power of dance for personal growth and community building, and uses movement as a tool to bring together youth from conflict regions. Melaina has had the opportunity to work with over 15 indigenous groups in the Amazon and Atlantic rainforests, and is dedicated to preserving traditional cultures and ways of life. She has led trips in Africa and South America for National Geographic and Putney Student Travel.
Mickela Mallozzi is the Emmy® Award-winning host and producer of Bare Feet with Mickela Mallozzi, a travel series airing on PBS. From re-discovering her family’s roots in Southern Italy to dancing tango in Buenos Aires, the series covers Mickela’s adventures as she experiences the world, one dance at a time. She has been featured in The New York Times, Travel Channel, Dance Magazine, USA TODAY, and American Express. Mickela is also the Director of the Women’s Travel Fest, an annual conference whose mission is to inspire, empower, educate, and connect women through travel. Follow Mickela at @TravelBareFeet or go toTravelBareFeet.com for more information.
A Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from the Dominican Republic, Catherine is the founder and head coach of the personal coaching firm Unbounded Potential LLC. She works with rising star performers who are committed to making a big impact in the world. She helps them fall in love with themselves first so they can take bolder actions, push past their fears, and get bigger results in the direction of their dreams. A big adventurer herself, Catherine lived overseas in Argentina for six months and in the Dominican Republic for four years. In the Dominican Republic, her Peace Corps service focused on ecotourism. After two years, she transitioned to work with a local nonprofit with the mission of spreading the economic benefits of the international tourism industry across the entire country. She is a dominicana dentro de su corazon with a passion for Latin dancing especially bachata and merengue tipico, colloquially known as perico ripiao.
Amber graduated with honors and a Bachelor of Science degree in business from Towson University. An administrative guru, she has worked for the American Dance Therapy Association, an organization dedicated to the profession of dance movement therapy. Amber is passionate about dance and travel–the two core elements of Dance Adventures. Her favorite dances include West Coast Swing, Fox Trot, and Cha cha.
The concrete building felt like a sweatlodge.
My fellow travelers and I sat against the back wall, trying to stay cool and out of the way as the drummers pounded their djembes and dunduns. Their powerful beats filled the space with overwhelming rhythm.
And then the dancing started.
Forty members of a local performance group made their way across the floor in a typical African dance warmup. The full-body commitment to each step and their ecstasy in these first moments of rehearsal brought me to tears. I had never seen such passion or drive for movement. I wanted to feel it in my own body, I wanted to know these people’s stories, and I certainly never wanted to go home.
My three weeks in Guinea, West Africa changed me in many ways…
I dug into local culture like never before (despite previously having lived abroad in four countries).
I bonded with local dancers and musicians, formed close relationships with my fellow travelers
I transformed my body image, learning to embrace my curves and “imperfections.
I learned about deep sacrifice for art. These dancers and musicians loved their craft so much that they worked night jobs at the airport to support themselves, walked eight miles to and from their practice space and used up what little calories they consumed during these long, hot rehearsals.
Their love and sacrifice for their art shook me out of my fears to create a life based on movement.
And so Dance Adventures was born.