College of Visual and Performing Arts

Free 'Dance for Parkinson’s' Classes at JMU Continue for Community

Dance for Parkinson's Fall 2019

September 24, 2019 – After successful series of free classes in the spring and summer of 2019, the James Madison University School of Theatre and Dance in partnership with JMU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) and School of Music will offer a fall series of free Dance for Parkinson’s classes on Saturdays from September 21-November 16, 2019. Classes will take place on September 21 and 28; October 5, 12, 19 and 26; and November 2, 9 and 16 from 10:30-11:45 am 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.

JMU dance professor emerita Kate Trammell, who earned a Wertheimer Fellowship to pursue certification in Dance for PD®, says the 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.

Four JMU dance majors (sophomore Kelsey Nihill and juniors Leah Abrams, Ashton Clevenger and Chloe Conway) were chosen by Trammell to serve as teaching assistants for the classes, while piano music education major junior Abby Wiegand will play live music during the classes thanks to a collaboration with Director Dr. David Stringham and Associate Director Dr. Jesse Rathgeber of the Center for Inclusive Music Engagement.

Abrams, Clevenger, Conway, and Wiegand 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 five students also attended training workshops at the Mark Morris Dance Group in October 2018, funded by the CVPA Dean’s Office.

Also involved in the fall classes are JMU Master of Occupational Therapy students Olivia Garcia and Caroline Puglia, who “attend each class and use their training to assist the community dancers.” Trammell adds that up to 20 dance majors in the JMU student organization Dance Theatre may volunteer in the classes thanks to a coordination of training efforts by Conway.

JMU professor emerita 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

Photo by Richard Finkelstein.

Published: Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 25, 2019

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