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Dance

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.

More than Meets the Eye

We all deal with the misconceptions of other people about our passions. For me, those misconceptions repeatedly touch on my identity as a Jewish feminist dancer. Now when I mean feminist, I do not mean the stereotypical kind that burn bras in trash cans, but rather somebody who thinks equal empowerment is morally correct. Being a teenage girl, I believe girls like me should, and have the right to, feel empowered. Which brings me to my passions for dance and Judaism—the two things that have always allowed me to feel strong.

The Balancing Act: Finding a Foothold Between a Passion and Humanity

We continue looking at pop culture and role models with this post from one of our Rising Voices Fellows. Be sure to check the JWA blog each Tuesday for a new post from our fellows—and check out the great educational resources provided by our partner organization, Prozdor.

I wouldn’t call it “pop,” but it certainly is a culture. Some even push dance to a way of life: dance, eat, breathe, sleep. We dance fanatics live in our own little universe, striving to achieve goals that would just seem alien to other teenagers. Not many teenage girls prepare for their summer fun by strenuously hand-sewing ribbons and elastics on their pink satin pointe shoes...

Pearl Lang

I, too, was a Midwesterner transposed to New York, trying to find my own way in the rich and heady dance scene. I knew Pearl Lang had come from Chicago, where she was raised in a cultured but poor Yiddish-speaking family. Her breathtaking career as a Graham dancer meant she had toured the world. And she often performed with her own company, the Pearl Lang Dance Theater, at the famed 92nd Street Y’s theater, where I went for performances by modern dance legends and for Fred Berk’s Wednesday night Israeli folk dancing. But now I was going to Hunter to see Lang’s “Shirah,” which she created in 1960.

For Judith Malina, Place is a State of Mind

For Judith Malina, place has always been a state of mind.  This tiny giant of the theatre world has epitomized the life of a nomad over her 66 years of work with the Living Theatre.  Her peripatetic career has taken her company to five continents; she herself has gone from serving time in prison to performing in South American prisons, even to a self-imposed exile from the U.S.

The Indomitable Jewish Ballerina Who Inspired a Timeless Love Song

In 1944, at the height of the worst carnage the world has known, a mother in Budapest, Hungary, put her only son, then seven years old, out on the street with a pillow, a last morsel of bread, and the boy’s baptismal certificate. The mother was Jewish, the son Catholic.

Fifty years later the son, Cesare Frustaci—by that time an American citizen with a family of his own—contributed a video-taped oral history to Yale University and then sent the tape to author Germaine Shames. It told the story of his mother, ballerina Margit Wolf, who was banished from the stage by Mussolini only to inspire a timeless love song and then fade from history without a trace.

This is not about women playing dance. It’s about revolution.

The most courageous fourteen year old girl I have ever set eyes on, Malala Yousafzai, was shot in the head for her advocacy of education for women and I am spending my time organizing a flash mob o

Frances Alenikoff , 1920 - 2012

Arriving for a rehearsal at Eden's Expressway at 537 Broadway in Soho on a Saturday afternoon in February 1997, I bypass the claustrophobically slow elevator and head up the four flights of stairs. In addition to being a spacious dance studio, Eden's Expressway has been a loft performance venue since the 1970s. The metal bolt door is ajar, but I knock anyway. COME IN.

Judith Martin, 1918 - 2012

Judith Martin co-founded The Paper Bag Players in 1958. Creativity was shared during the first years, but as the company developed, Judith Martin more and more shaped The Paper Bag Players’ identity. She wrote, designed, choreographed, directed, and performed in 35 Paper Bag Players shows.

Liz Lerman: Still Dancing, Still Crossing

This July marks one year since choreographer, author, and innovator Liz Lerman parted ways with her dance company, formerly the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange (now just the Dance Exchange) to fly solo as an independent choreographer.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Dance." (Viewed on December 15, 2017) <https://jwa.org/topics/dance>.

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