Photo: Rachel E. H. Photography
Photo: Rachel E. H. Photography

Local Entrepreneur Brings Dance to World Stage

Like many young professionals, Megan Taylor Morrison arrived in the DC area for work.

“The job was amazing,” Morrison said. “But ultimately, I knew I was destined to start my own company.”

Two years in, Megan quit and began earning money as a life coach and dance instructor at Joy of Motion, where she still teaches.

“All the while, I worked with my business partner Melaina Spitzer to design and run dance trips to Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Argentina,” Morrison said. “We were testing the business model for Dance Adventures (DA). Even though Melaina and I had 18 years of experience leading trips, this was a different niche, and we needed to learn the ropes.”

DA is now in its third year of business. As an adventure travel company, DA specializes in “epic dance tours around the world.” In 2018, DA will sponsor trips to six destinations. The company was recently accepted to Creative Startups, the foremost accelerator for creative businesses in the world. We spoke with Morrison about DA, her experience in the incubator and what it’s like to start a business in the DMV area.

On Tap: What inspires you about this work?
Megan Morrison: I always knew our travelers would have a great time, but I didn’t expect the experiences to be so transformative. Most of us are busy, burnt out and disconnected in our daily lives. My favorite part of this work is seeing people reconnect to their sense of community, self-expression, wonder and play. Connecting to these things is key to living our most joyful, healthy and successful life.

OT: Where is your favorite place to visit?
MM: Rio de Janeiro in Brazil is fabulous because it offers so much: hikes to incredible vistas, great music and lots of fun dance styles. Samba no pé, the dance featured in Carnaval, is the best-known. I also love partnered samba (“samba de gafieira”) and forró, which is a partner dance done to the Brazilian version of country music. I also love the Dominican Republic because it’s the birthplace of bachata and merengue. My favorite thing to do is sit at a colmado, or corner store, drink an ice-cold Presidente beer, and listen to music or play dominos with the locals.

OT: Where can people learn these dances in DC?
MM: I teach at Joy of Motion, and I recommend taking classes there. You can also join our Dance Adventures Meetup group.

OT: What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a business in the DMV area?
MM: Living in the DMV is expensive, but don’t let that stop you from starting a business. You can always make it work, even if you need to drive an Uber or stay at your day job until you’re turning a profit. Get lots of support to keep you accountable and moving forward.

OT: How is Creative Startups helping you building your business?
MM:
Over the last three years, I’ve identified the gaps in my knowledge and I knew Creative Startups would be a fast and powerful way to fill those gaps and hone the business model. It’s extremely intense and gives us access to incredible mentors, like Lena Ramfelt from Stanford University. We’re only a few weeks in and we’ve already completely changed our business model. It’s exciting and we’re really encouraged by the community.

OT: What other advice would you give young professionals with big dreams?
MM: Surround yourself with other visionaries. It can be lonely having a big vision and not having those around you understand. Before I left my job, there was a three-month period where I cried every day after work. I wanted to start my business so badly, but I was afraid and many people told me it was crazy. Trust yourself and get started, because there is magic in beginning.

Learn more about DA here.

Photo caption: Dance Adventures’ Founding Director Melaina Spitzer dances bachata with a fellow traveler in the Dominican Republic