Charlotte Selver

Charlotte Selver (1901-2003) was a music educator and body awareness instructor born in Germany. In the 1920s, Selver studied piano and was also enrolled in the Dr. Rudolph Bode School for Expressive Movement, but later stopped her musical studies as a pianist after graduating due to her increasing hearing loss. Although this shift in her career was unexpected, she became acquainted with Elsa Gindler and Heinrich Jacoby, who introduced her to their studies on sensory awareness. This would be her specialty for 75 years.

Selver first began teaching at the University of Leipzig, where she stayed for eight years. There, she helped athletes and handicapped children become more aware of their bodies, taught beginner music courses at the Leipzig Music Conservatory and graduate courses for teachers. She became well known throughout the university and even became connected with the university clinic where she offered courses in childbirth preparation and orthopedic and post surgical treatment rehabilitation.

Selver immigrated to the United States near the end of 1938. She developed a friendship and mentorship with fellow New School Professor Erich Fromm, who spread the news about her psychological work, which eventually allowed her to teach. Selver began teaching at the Adult Division of the New School in 1950, where she was a faculty member and lecturer with the School of Philosophy and Liberal Arts under the Gymnastics and Recreation division. Her first course, entitled Body Reorientation, consisted of learning how the body functions, how to move for more effective use of energy and improve coordination–all to gain greater awareness of and more satisfaction from common activities. In 1954, Selver added the course Relaxation and Reconditioning, which focused on breathing, releasing unnecessary tensions, and discovering the difference between constructive rest and flaccidity. In 1959, Selver added yet another course to her repertoire; Experience and Communication without Words emphasized non-verbal communication as a practice of inner peace.  Selver’s courses took place at her studio on 315 W. 57th Street and in the New School building in Greenwich Village. She continued to teach at the New School for over twenty years.


New School for Social Research (New York, N.Y. : 1919-1997). New School Bulletin 1950-1951 Vol. 8 No. 1. September 4 1950. New School course catalog collection; Schools of Public Engagement; General course catalogs. New School Archives and Special Collections Digital Archive. Web. 04 May 2019.

Lesser, Lee Klinger. “Return to our Senses: Charlotte Selver”. 2017.