A DEVOTED dancer has been given a luxurious tour of the area after selling her beloved car to fund her trip to perform in the Billingham International Folklore Festival.

Mexican Danzon dancer Rosa Maria Segura Duran, known as Rosita, sold her 2001 Chrysler to pay for her ticket to fly over to the UK as part of the Embrujo Danzonero dance company.

The dance teacher, who lives in Tonola near Guadalajara with her husband and 18-year-old son, dreamt of performing at the festival but the £2,200 cost of the 11,000 mile round trip flight was proving difficult for her to raise.

So she took the difficult decision to sell her car and leave her family behind to take part in the internationally renowned event this weekend.

She said: “Dance is a universal language that we love to perform in front of people because we feel the music from the bottom of our heart. It is so beautiful being able to travel to Billingham and celebrate during the Festival’s 50th anniversary year. The music, the songs and the dance make a real difference when the groups of the world are all together.”

And after hearing of her dedication to dance businessman, John Collins of Heritage Classics of Middlesbrough, invited the Danzon dancer as his guest of honour to be driven around Billingham and the surrounding area in a recently restored 1997 Bentley turbo.

The Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance (BIFF 2014) embraces the whole celebration of world culture and attracts performers from as far afield as Chile, Italy, Ireland, Mexico, North Cyprus, Russia, South Korea, Spain and Thailand.

Olga Maloney, the festival’s artistic director, said: “It is heart-warming to hear stories of dedication and devotion by dancers like Rosita, who will move heaven and earth to perform at our Festival in Billingham.”

John Collins of Heritage Classics, said: “It fills you will civic pride to think that people will go to such extreme lengths like selling their car to visit our shores and experience a much loved Festival. I’ve restored classic cars for many years and I know how attached people can get to their vehicles.”

The festival kicks off with two shows on Saturday (August 9) with the opening ceremony at the Festival Arena, situated outside The Forum, and an evening International Carousel Showcase event at The Forum Theatre which includes Rosita and her colleagues from Embrujo Danzonero dance company.