She and three colleagues were driving back to New York in freezing rain following a performance of The Nutcracker in Williamsport, Pennsylvania when they were caught in the deadly pile-up on the icy highway. Those colleagues included Alexander's husband of four months, 28-year-old Julio Bragado-Young, a fellow ABT member; 21-year-old Nicole Graniero, a new dancer with the company, and Lindsay Poulis, 19 years old and training at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance.
According to The New York Times, none of the four was hurt in the car, whose air bags inflated as designed. Rather, Alexander was killed and Bragado-Young injured by oncoming autos after they got out of their own damaged vehicle. Graniero and Poulis managed to jump clear.
Alexander had not even been dancing in the Williamsport performance, according to the Times; she was there to be with her husband, who played the Nutcracker Prince.
Bragado-Young, who suffered a compound fracture in one leg, underwent surgery at a nearby hospital, reported the paper.
Born in Calgary, where she began her dance studies, Alexander began her professional career with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. She came to New York in 1993 to appear in the Broadway production of The Red Shoes, according to the Times; the following year she joined ABT, where she remained for 13 years.
"She set this example of someone who was highly professional," ABT executive director Rachel Moore told the paper, "never a temper tantrum, always cool and collected, and focused on doing the best on stage."
American Ballet Theatre will dedicate its performances of The Nutcracker at Washington's Kennedy Center next week (December 18-23) to Alexander's memory. "I can think of no greater tribute for the Company to pay than with a gift of artistry," said ABT artistic director Kevin McKenzie in a statement. "Jennifer was revered by her fellow dancers in the corps de ballet and respected as an artist by all of us."