Elissa Shapiro, LCSW
I never really considered myself a dancer…
I do remember loving to dance and move as a child. Ballet, gymnastics, playing sports, anything where I could be active and free. And then like so many of us, adolescence and early adult years brought intense self-consciousness, body shame and a spiral down the never ending loop of diets, disordered eating, and later chronic illness.
Little did I know at the time that my personal path would greatly impact the direction of my professional work in the years to come.
Early on in my life, I became very interested in learning about alternative forms of healing. Jobs and volunteer experiences as a pre-teen and beyond always focused on children, creativity, and helping others. After getting my bachelor’s in Psychology at Emory University, I continued on to obtain my Masters in Social Work at University of Texas at Austin, and became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker working with children, teens and families.
While in graduate school, I attended a training for psychotherapists on self-care, feminine soul work and eating disorders. I was introduced to various alternative forms of psychological and psycho-spiritual work and attended a session led by a psychotherapist who was also incorporating the movement practice of Nia into her work. Nia is a mind-body conscious movement practice that promotes the joy of movement through integrating dance, yoga and martial arts.
I fell in love with my body moving, found joy, creativity and self-expression, and finally had found a form of exercise and stress relief that I enjoyed.
I returned back to Austin and began taking Nia classes for my own personal benefits. I quickly began experiencing physical, mental, and emotional healing and I was hooked. I completed the teacher training and became curious about how I might integrate some of what I had learned into my work in psychiatric hospitals and residential treatment centers with teens, many of whom had cognitive impairments, such as brain injuries and developmental delays.
I was amazed at what I discovered and my love and exploration of movement and the therapeutic process continued…
I began teaching Nia classes to the public and also trained with Vinn Marti, the founder of Soul Motion (TM), a conscious dance practice that has been a huge part of my own personal spiritual path and has greatly impacted the development of my work. I have loved investigating other healing forms such as ecstatic dance, contact improv, authentic movement, and dance therapy, which all hold a special place in my heart.
Eventually there came a time when I realized that pursuing movement and expressive arts was my path and passion, and I co-created and owned Body Vida Movement & Expressive Arts studio in Austin, TX. Supporting people in discovering the joy and healing of their bodies in motion has become an incredible passion and privilege, something that has continued to inspire me personally and professionally. While Body Vida studio location is no longer open, I continue to facilitate offerings around Austin and nationwide.
Years ago, injuries, chronic pain and illness intensified in my life and it required me to shift my way of living. I began developing my own work, one that combined my background as a psychotherapist, my path of investigating psycho-spiritual modalities, along with my love of movement and my need at the time to slow down and listen to my body’s way of moving.
Learning to listen to my body’s rhythms and unique ways of moving became a huge part of my own healing process, which eventually led me to living pain free.
Moving authentically and consciously also has led me to living with more love and appreciation for my body. It has become a way of life that I am honored to share with you. I have witnessed so many women over the years learn so much about themselves through their dance. I have witnessed women find radiant health and vibrancy. I have witnessed women release burdens and heal long standing issues from childhood. I have witnessed women really take care of themselves and their needs. I have witnessed women heal their bodies and their hearts. I have witnessed women explore and assert healthy boundaries, relationships, and communication. I have witnessed women find themselves and fall in love.
All this and more is possible when we gather to dance.
All are welcome.
You are invited to come join us and discover the gifts of
moving your body…
And as Gabrielle Roth says…
“If you just set people in motion,
they will heal themselves.”
About Our Community…
That all bodies are beautiful
That all women can dance
That each of us has a unique dance waiting to be expressed
That movement heals the body and soul
That there is a powerful healing that occurs when women gather
That connecting in love, compassion and respect for ourselves and each other is what guides our dance
That the dance floor provides the opportunity for deep personal growth and transformation
That in moving together, we have the ability to change our lives and the world
Join us on a journey into discovering your body’s beauty and wisdom
Move With Me...
Something magical happens when women gather in circle to dance. We let go of roles, responsibilities and masks we wear in the world and discover deep peace, joy and intuition that we can take back out to guide us in our daily life.
Be nurtured by heart-lifting music, spacious room for deep rest, joyful self-guided solo, partner and community dance, group sharing and process. Begin your week feeling rejuvenated, inspired and deeply connected to yourself, others and the world around you.
Luxuriate in spacious time away from the busy-ness of your life to tend to your inner world through sacred dance, writing, art, and dialogue, providing you insights and inspirations to take back into your daily life.
Private Individual Sessions
This one-on-one time is personally tailored for you to nurture and support your specific interests and needs. Sessions may include soothing music, breathing and meditation exercises, guided visualization and supportive dialogue to help you access the wisdom of your body.
Women's Movement & Process Group
An intimate gathering of women who meet regularly, either weekly or monthly for a set number of weeks. The group deepens together in safe space to explore mindfulness tools and embodied practices that can support each woman through whatever stage she is at in her life.
Available for private groups, organizations, schools, etc. Topics such as body image, mindfulness and team building can be tailored to fit your interests and needs. Engaging, interactive movement experiences and activities to inspire and support your group.
“Elissa is a master at creating meaningful movement within each participant. I have moved my body without self-consciousness, lost myself in the joy of the moment and also have been moved to tears many times while dancing in Elissa’s class. She is truly a gifted healer.”
~ Juli N.