Under the fond eye of revered CMDE founder, Shirley Ubell Elissa began her dance career at the Center at age three. Shirley was Elissa’s inspiration as she began to perfect her art. Elissa continued on at The Martha Graham School, Jacobs Pillow Summer Dance Festival, Bennington College, Simons Rock College, and the New School for Social Research.
As both artistic director and teacher at CMDE, Elissa believes in the gospel of creativity through modern dance and that everyone can find benefit in the art no matter who they are. She shares her enthusiasm with students of all ages, toddler to seniors, and from beginners to advanced, including those with disabilities. Over the years, she has honed her craft, developing and implementing numerous original programs for CMDE, teaching and presenting her own choreography.
In her role as artistic director at CMDE, Elissa supervises all staff, and acts as primary liaison between CMDE staff and the Board of Trustees, as well as with other dance companies and programs.
Elissa has taken on wide responsibilities in the community that reflect her love of dance. She serves on the ADA Advisory Board for the Bergen County Department of Cultural and Historical Affairs, and as the Chairperson of the Committee for the Bergen County Week of the Young Child Family Fun Festival. She is a board member of ArtsBergen and a former member of the Advisory Committee for the Bergen County Teen Arts Festival, as well as of the Creative Hackensack Team. Until recently, she was a board member of the Bergen Arts Grants Panel and Dance New Jersey. She is currently chairperson of the annual Bergen County Multi-Cultural Fun Festival, and sings and plays guitar with the musical group, HipAnonymous.