December 1928 - 10 October 2003
Baltimore teacher, writer and former dancer Jane Ward Murray died Friday,
October 10, 2003. A memorial service was held for her at Goucher
College on Friday, October 17, where George Jackson read the following
one of the graces, an incarnation of a classical ideal of action, contemplation
and simply being beauteous, an ideal one encounters rarely in this life.
On the street or when she entered a room, people's heads would turn for
Jane. "Who is that woman?" one wondered. And if one didn't know,
the answer was "She must be somebody, she is somebody". This
wasn't only due to her dance training. Dancers, with their turn-out and
muscle stretch don't always look graceful off the stage. Not Jane. She
moved with assurance, she paused with ease, and the delight she took in
people brought out the best in them. One tended to answer her questions
truthfully, and go on to tell her more than she'd asked about because
she showed such interest and seemed to take it all in. What did she do
with those stories and confessions? Did they become a burden with time?
Three decades ago, Jane entered the press room at the Kennedy Center in
Washington. Heads turned, eye looked up—including mine. The unsounded
question "Who is that woman?" was answered by Jane herself.
She didn't hesitate to introduce herself as a dance critic from Baltimore.
"But you are a dancer, too" several of us asked in the same
Jane was a dancer. She had a dancer's bearing, a dancer's shape and one
sensed that there was dance deep within her bones. She is said to have
danced already at age 3. She studied dance, mostly ballet, and her teachers
were among the world's best—Pierre Vladimiroff, Anatole Oboukhoff,
Muriel Stuart and even George Balanchine and Antony Tudor. But it was
these exacting teachers who wanted her as their pupil !
Jane performed, beginning when she was still a student (in a sense, dancers
never stop being students because taking class is a career-long ritual).
She also performed professionally for choreographers such as Balanchine
and Tudor. But her stage career was brief, for she married young and raised
a son. What roles might Jane have had? Impossible to say, but just perhaps
might she have been lyrical yet with finely articulated strength, someone
who would suit both Tudor's romantic understatement and Balanchine's neoclassic
clarity, a being at home in a Lilac Garden as well as in a Crystal
As a dance critic Jane joined two viewpoints that can be poles apart.
She was able to see dance as a dancer and as audience. The public consversations
she held with dancers and choreographers before audiences of dance writers
opened many eyes—as did the ballet technique classes she continued
Jane, the dance world will miss the things you did—no longer will
you share with us your response to the season's premiers and debuts—and
most of all we are deprived of bearing witness to a state of grace.
17 October 2003
Volume 1, Number 4
October 20, 2003
Jean Battey Lewis
Sali Ann Kriegsman
Sali Ann Kriegsman
Alexandra Tomalonis (Editor)
site is the online supplement to DanceView,
a quarterly review of dance published since 1979.
is available by subscription ONLY. Don't miss it. It's a good
read. Black and white, 48 pages, no ads. Subscribe
Washington, D.C. 20043