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Shirley Silver Selis

“When you are born to do something, it is never-ending. Regardless of how old you get, it is something that you have to do. And if you can no longer physically do it, you must be a part of it. I still have my black swan tutu.” – Shirley Silver Selis

Known as “Fuzzy” to her friends and family, Shirley Selis was born in 1917 in Baltimore and developed a lifelong passion for dance in childhood. A frail child, Fuzzy's parents sent her to learn eurythmics at the Peabody Conservatory, where she was recruited for ballet at age ten. When the Depression made it difficult for the family to pay for her ballet lessons, she received a scholarship that allowed her to continue. Early in life, Shirley absorbed a sense of openness and curiosity from her parents, who hosted a weekly salon for the discussion of politics and the issues of the day. In 1938, she married Jacob “Johnny” Selis, who encouraged her to travel to New York for classes with the American Ballet Theater throughout their marriage. After the birth of their children, Vivienne and James, Fuzzy began teaching ballet, eventually creating her own dance studio. Following in the spirit of her parents' salons, she opened her home to European exchange students with whom she has remained in close contact through the years. Widowed in 1987, Fuzzy continued her active involvement in the world of dance and only stopped taking ballet classes at age 80. Fuzzy recently moved to Virginia and retains an active interest in ballet and opera.

More on: Teachers, Dance
Shirley Silver Selis
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Shirley Silver Selis
Photo courtesy of Joan Roth.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Shirley Silver Selis." (Viewed on October 25, 2014) <http://jwa.org/communitystories/baltimore/narrators/selis-shirley-silver>.

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