Nancy Brock Beck

Beck—_Nancy Brock Beck, _ 98, on January 26, 2018, in Catonsville, Md., from causes related to Alzheimer’s disease. Nancy was born on April 4, 1919, on a military base outside Lake Charles, La., to Nancy Gibson and Arthur W. Brock, and moved often with her father’s military postings. She began dance classes at three, and by grade eight was in the adult dance class at a Denishawn school in Washington, D.C. On her fifteenth birthday, she danced Ted Shawn’s _Invocation to the Thunderbird _in her first solo program. She enrolled in Case Western Reserve University (then Western Reserve University) in 1935, also studying at Cleveland Institute of Music and teaching dance classes at settlement houses. In 1936 and 1940 she attended Bennington College Summer School of the Arts.

She married musicologist William S. Newman in 1937. From 1943 to 1946, she taught at the Madeira School in McLean, Va. After she and William divorced in 1947, she taught at University of North Carolina and then for three years at Hampton University (then Hampton Institute). She led a dance troupe on tours in the segregated Southeast, performing at black churches, colleges, and YM/YWCAs. In 1950 she began teaching at Purdue University.

She met German national Karl W. Beck in 1952 when he visited Purdue on a U.S. State Department tour. After corresponding, they met again when she was in Berlin on sabbatical to study with Mary Wigman, and they married in 1954 between her performances in the Handel oratorio Saul for the Mannheim Opera Company.

Nancy and Karl helped start Lafayette Meeting in West Lafayette, Ind., and Fort Wayne (Ind.) Meeting. They moved to Salem, Va., in 1962 for Karl’s job at Roanoke College, and with others they started Roanoke (Va.) Meeting (then Roanoke-Blacksburg Meeting). She began many years of performing her solo program _The Dance in Worship _at colleges, churches, and Quaker gatherings.

Karl died in 1969, and she moved to Long Island in 1971 to teach at C.W. Post College, transferring her membership to Conscience Bay Meeting in St. James, N.Y. That same year, with her son Christopher, also a professional dancer, she developed a creative movement workshop for non-dancers, giving it at Pendle Hill study center in Wallingford, Pa.; Powell House in Old Chatham, N.Y.; Friends meetings in several states; Baltimore, New York, and Southeastern Yearly Meeting sessions; several Friends General Conference (FGC) Gatherings; and many Friends Conference on Religion and Psychology (FCRP) gatherings.

After moving to Montclair, N.J., and Montclair Meeting in 1977, she organized a sacred dance trio and gave the 1982 FGC Gathering plenary speech on “Playing Together” and the 1984 Southeastern Yearly Meeting session plenary speech. She traveled to Europe many times, and for her seventieth birthday, gifts from family, friends, and former students funded a three-month dream trip to Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. In 1989, she moved to Santa Rosa Creek Commons in Santa Rosa, Calif., transferring her membership from Montclair Meeting to Redwood Forest Meeting in Santa Rosa.

She moved to Friends House in Sandy Spring, Md., in 2009, and to assisted living facility Paradise in Catonsville, Md., in 2013. Her quest for self-improvement included Quakerism, psychoanalysis, yoga, Sensory Awareness, and George Gurdjieff’s “The Work.” She was generous, helpful, and loving. Nancy is remembered with great love by her three sons, Christopher Newman (Peter Drucker), Peter Beck (Joan Roe), and Hanno Beck (Valerie Diamond); and two grandchildren. Gifts in her memory may be made to Fellowship of Reconciliation USA (

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