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Jane Ward Murray has died

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A renowned Baltimore, Maryland teacher and dance writer, Jane Ward Murray, died at her home Friday night.

Murray studied with Antony Tudor -- at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore. He prepared her for "Swan Lake" when she was 15 and brought her to Ballet Theatre. She left A.B.T. to dance for a few years with New York City Ballet. She was considererd extremely promising, but married and retired early.

Murray taught ballet at Goucher College, and elsewhere, in Baltimore for years. She wrote criticism and was, for a time, a TV critic -- but was told "you're too classy for television."

She was classy -- one of the greatest ladies I've ever had the privilege to know. I met her my first season as a dance critic and she was always extremely kind and gracious. She had an extraordinary memory and a righteous eye. She could tell who staged a "Serenade," say, by looking at it -- not only for the idiosyncracies of text and style, but because that version was the year that Dancer B was pregnant, and so two parts were merged so Dancer C could do C and B's role. She was always the first person I turned to when I saw a ballet from the '40s or '50s to hear stylistic comparisons, or when my instinct told me that something was wrong--or right!--with a production, but I didn't have the knowledge to back it up.

Her husband died a few years ago. She is survived by a son. There hasn't been an obituary yet; it will have more details that I don't know.

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I live in Baltimore and was fortunate to be able to see Ms. Murray on a critics' show that was cancelled many years ago. She was by far the most articulate and perceptive person on a panel that was made up of a book critic, theater critic, and others. She was lovely to look at, gracious in gesture and insightful about her art. I sometimes saw her out walking with her husband in the evening. I did not know that she was, in addition to her other gifts, an accomplished and promising dancer. I know she'll be greatly missed.

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