JMU to offer free Dance for Parkinson’s classes to community

james madison university jmuThe JMU School of Theatre and Dance in partnership with JMU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts and School of Music will offer a series of free Dance for Parkinson’s classes during select Saturdays in the spring of 2019.

Classes will take place on February 16 and 23; March 16, 23 and 30; and April 6, 13 and 20 from 10:30 a.m. until 11:45 a.m. in the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts. Classes, which include movement and music, are based on the Dance for PD® approach developed by the reputable Brooklyn-based Mark Morris Dance Group, and are open to people with Parkinson’s, their families, friends and care partners.

“There’s a whole group of people who will benefit from these classes,” says JMU dance professor Kate Trammell, who earned a Wertheimer Fellowship to pursue certification in Dance for PD®. According to Trammell, classes will allow participants to experience the joys and benefits of movement and music while creatively addressing symptom-specific concerns related to balance, cognition, motor skill, depression and physical confidence. The classes engage the participants’ minds and bodies in an enjoyable, safe social environment.

Three JMU dance majors (sophomores Lauren Abrams, Ashton Clevenger and Chloe Conway) were chosen by Trammell to serve as teaching assistants for the classes, while two piano music education majors (sophomores Thomas Hassett and Abby Wiegand) will play live music during the classes thanks to a collaboration with Dr. David Stringham and Dr. Jesse Rathgeber, JMU music faculty members and co-founders of the Center for Inclusive Music Engagement.

The five students were awarded CVPA Undergraduate Research Grants to take an introductory-level Dance for PD® course in Toronto, Canada, which they attended with Trammell from January 31-February 1, 2019. “The Toronto training allowed me to learn and feel comfortable with how to run a class and create a safe environment for participants,” shares Clevenger. According to Wiegand, “The experience helped me become more comfortable with improvisation and the rhythmic accuracy needed to accompany a class well.” The students also attended training workshops at the Mark Morris Dance Group in October, funded by the CVPA Dean’s Office.

JMU professor of dance Kate Trammell has 30 years of experience teaching dance to people of all ages and abilities. The Mark Morris Dance Group has Dance for PD® programs in 250 communities in 25 countries. A number of leading neurologists and movement disorder specialists around the world include Dance for PD® classes among a shortlist of recommended activities for their patients.

Registration is required. To register, visit For further information about the classes, contact Kate Trammell at

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