Meet The Team
Dr Thania Acarón, PhD, BC-DMT, FHEA
Role: Director, Facilitator & Dance Movement Psychotherapist
Dr Thania Acarón is a dance movement psychotherapist, researcher, lecturer and performer from Puerto Rico. She obtained her PhD on the role of dance in violence prevention at the University of Aberdeen and holds an MA in Dance Education from New York University. She is certified as a clinical supervisor and dance movement psychotherapist in the UK and US and has worked in the field since 2006. She also directs interdisciplinary group Orphaned Limbs Collective, and co-directs Fflamingo, a community interest company promoting LGBTQ+ performance projects. Acarón is a lecturer at the University of South Wales and offers international workshops on movement for wellbeing, therapeutic work with the LGBT+ community, embodied decision-making and violence prevention.
Thania is now based in Wales, and is the director of The Body Hotel so is responsible for the day to day running of the company. She also runs the staff training and organisational workshops that the company offers. She is a member of various dance therapy associations and networks including the Association of Dance Movement Psychotherapy UK, the American Dance Therapy Association, the Latin American Dance Movement Therapy Network, the Wales Arts Health and Wellbeing Network and the Wales Arts Therapies Advisory Forum. She also sits on the advisory board for Creative Cardiff and the editorial board for LGBTQYMRU.
Shailesh Patel, Non-Executive Director
Shailesh has built successful businesses over 25 years, bringing a wealth of expertise in business management, financial consultancies, and a strong passion for mentoring and supporting small businesses. As a self-driven entrepreneur, Shailesh holds interest in developing innovative projects and as Non-Executive Director for The Body Hotel, supports the overall vision development of the company and its Advisory Board. Shailesh is an avid marathoner and distance runner, and heavily believes in the importance of physical activity in our wellbeing.
Dr Mark Gurney, Non-Executive Director
Mark is a scientist and researcher with a PhD in biology and health research, a specialisation in Immunology. He holds an active engagement with equality, diversity and inclusion. Dr Gurney has joined the directorship to support its overall vision and direct efforts in fundraising. He is an avid supporter of the arts, with a keen interest in the health sector.
Role: Project Manager/Arts Management Officer
Katie is our Programme Manager, who looks after the marketing and promotion side of the company, as well as assisting with general management tasks. Katie is a Creative Practitioner focusing her work within arts in health, arts management and workshop facilitation. She anticipates graduating with a BA Hons in Creative and Therapeutic Arts from University of South Wales in the
next few months and continues to develop her art practice. Katie is passionate about working with others and using creativity to support their health and wellbeing.
Advisory Group Members
The Body Hotel benefits from the guidance and expertise of a trusted group who offer their expertise and experience in a wide variety of fields.
The Advisory Group Members (2021-present) are:
• Dr Tracy Breathnach Evans (Co-director of Break Free & Thrive, Programme Manager for WAHWN (Wales Arts Health and Wellbeing Network), Arts Consultant, Researcher, Entrepreneur)
• Georgina Biggs (Founder of SheWolf, a disabled-led performance company based in Penarth, committed to exploring the interconnections between body, voice and landscape and Rainbow Pooch Pride an LGBTQ+ wellbeing initiative.
• Dr Mark Gurney (Senior Scientist, doctoral specialist in biology and health research) (Served 2021-23. Non-Executive Director since March 2023).
• Julie Joseph (Dance Movement Psychotherapist based in Scotland, Founder of Common Thread, Specialist Consultant in working with adolescents and trauma)
• Dr Carly Marchant (Dance Movement Psychotherapist based in England, PhD specialist in work with Learning Disabilities & Autism)
• Dr Lymarie Rodríguez (Psychologist, Lecturer at University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Researcher, Specialist in Alexithymia and Outdoor Therapy
• Vish (Founder and Co-Chair of Glitter Cymru, a Wales-based LGBTQ+ Minority Ethnic organisation)
• Prof Carolyn Wallace (Professor at University of South Wales; Director of the Wales School for Social Prescribing Research Network & PRIME Research Centre (Wales Centre for Primary and Emergency Care Research)