THE TEAM

Elissa Shapiro, LCSW
Program Director / Instructor / Facilitator

I discovered Nia many years ago after little to no movement or dance background and completely fell in love - with moving, with playing, with having a body. I noticed tremendous changes in my physical, mental, and emotional health and committed myself to sharing this work with others.  My educational background includes a Masters in Social Work, in which I spent many years working in mental health agencies, hospitals, and schools with children, adolescents, and families. From this I bring with me my
dedication and passion for guiding others towards self-discovery, creativity, and healing through the expressive arts.  My own personal journey has included growth and transformation through movement practices such as Nia and Soul Motion, which continue to play huge roles in my life.  My vision is to create a safe and supportive place for people of all walks of life to find physical, emotional and spiritual healing, connection, and growth.  I am grateful for the opportunities I have been provided to co-create and offer Body Vida to our Austin community. I welcome and invite you to share in my joy – come move, come play, come fall in love!

Elissa received her Bachelors in Psychology from Emory University and her Masters in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin. She has extensive training in art, movement and other expressive arts therapies. Elissa is a Certified Nia Instructor, as well as one of only nine Soul Motion teachers worldwide.  Her warmth, creativity, and passion offer students a nurturing and inviting space to explore creativity, individuality and healing. 

Liz Ganz
Nia Instructor / Nia Trainer

I did not take a formal dance class until I was 30.  I just knew that there was a current of energy moving through me, although I wasn’t sure how to direct it. I studied acting in New York, performed in a few plays, acted in a film, moved out of New York to a small town in NH, discovered  Modern dance, West African dance, Contact Improvisation, choreography, and performance. I moved to Austin to study with dance legend,Deborah Hay, and continue to be informed by her practice. Austin is where I found the Nia technique. Nia was the catalyst for the huge wave of transformation that followed. I found my voice as a teacher and as an artist. I am a singer. I am one of the 3 feminine muses who  birthed this amazing new studio, Body Vida !!! I love how everything is part of everything else. I love how Nia and Soul Motion blend. I love turning people on to themselves and what they are here to do –to  live and love well. My practice as a human is rooted in the experience of passionate art, communion, and service.

Liz Ganz is a visionary leader and teacher of authentic embodiment who has been called the “Nia light house” in Austin.  Liz is certified as a Nia Black Belt teacher and teacher trainer, leading Nia intensives at Body Vida and beyond.   In addition to the Nia Technique, Liz also leads Soul Motion and is one of a handful of teachers to be endorsed by Soul Motion designer, Vinn Marti. She is the Creative Director of the Being Lived Performance Company, and offers private sessions in Movement as Medicine, which includes Nia, Soul Motion, Being Lived, and Authentic Leadership.  Her classes are inclusive, inspirational, and deeply healing.

Gabriela Masala, M.A.
Special Event Instructor / Consultant

Radiance, Joy and Embodiment make my soul sing.  Movement and Expressive arts are among my most vital practices.  They are my play, prayer, process and celebration.  I am a lover-of life, ecumenical spirituality, and Vibrant health.  I have been blessed by in-depth study with incredible teachers and diverse opportunities to guide groups and individuals in the areas of dance, yoga and personal growth.  I currently serve on the faculty for the resortbased, Shape Your Life programs™, and am co director of The Source Consulting Group, Corporate and Community Wellness and Development. I am eternally grateful and honored to be an apprentice of Zen-Yoga master, “Ranjani” Dr. Mary-Elaine Cobo , and Diamond and River Jameson, directors of The Total Integration Institute. I am delighted to be part of the Body Vida team, showering love on the Austin community and moving body and soul with creativity and passion.

Gabriela is an international consultant. Her diverse clients speak highly of her playful vitality, which inspires their innate joy, and life celebration.  She holds certifications in NIA Technique , ACE Group Fitness, Personal Training, Yoga, and Meditation. Gabriela is a long time student and facilitator of expressive, healing and performance arts, including: African and Brazilian dance and mind-body-spirit lifestyle integration. She is currently a member of The Being Lived Performance Company.

Ursula Parks
Nia Instructor

Some of my earliest memories are of dancing.  As a child I knew the pleasure of dance, and it remained the focus of my life growing up.   One day I realized that dancing stopped being fun and had turned into work.  I left dance behind for many years, turning to college and then to building a career in public service.  Disovering the practice of Nia allowed me to reconnect with the joyful dance I had as a child and bring that infinite, intima te delight back into my life.  My practice permeates me, guiding me to live in my body and touching how I balance the demands of meaningful work, relationships and spirituality.  I seek to share the movement-based path to physical, intellectual and emotional health, healing and transformation that Nia has offered to me.

Ursula Parks brings to her classes over seventeen years of dance and expressive movement experience, including extensive training and performance experience in modern dance and ballet.  Her Nia practice began in 1997 and she completed her Nia certification in 2002.  Through the physical and spirited practice of Nia, Ursula creates a safe space for students to reconnect with the joyful human impulse to dance.  Her classes are physical, lively and funky, spiked with both humor and silence.



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