Mason School of Dance Brings “Dance for Parkinson’s Disease” Classes to Fairfax Campus

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This fall, George Mason University’s School of Dance is sharing the transformative power of dance with the Northern Virginia community. In partnership with the Bowen McCauley Dance Company (BMDC), free Dance for Parkinson’s Disease (Dance for PD®) classes will be open to the public and offered on Mason’s Fairfax campus in October and November of this year.

Participants in the Dance for PD program stand in a row with their hands raised triumphantly on an outdoor stage at the Kennedy Center.
Participants in the Dance for PD program stand in a row with their hands raised triumphantly on an outdoor stage at the Kennedy Center.

Dance for PD® is a movement-based class that begins slowly with warm-ups and progresses to combinations of movements that correspond with a variety of uplifting music. The class offers not only physical benefits, but also reduces the dancers’ social isolation which is commonly associated with this neurological disease.

The Dance for PD® program is a continuation of BMDC’s priority to continue serving the Parkinson’s community following the conclusion of the company’s 25th and final season in September. As announced during BMDC’s final performance at the Kennedy Center, the Dance for PD® program will continue to offer free fall classes for the public within the Kennedy Center, Maryland Youth Ballet, and George Mason University. Serving participants within the NOVA community, Mason’s hosting of Dance for PD® programming works in tandem with BMDC Artistic Director Lucy Bowen’s commitment to PD resources remaining accessible across the DMV area. 

"It’s important to me that people living with Parkinson’s continue to have easy access across the entire DC Metro area,” said Lucy Bowen. “To partner with these three iconic institutions in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia is an absolute dream and will ensure that the program lives on into the next generation.” 

Bowen, who will be leading classes on campus, will additionally be integrating Dance for PD® instruction into Mason’s School of Dance education curriculum, solidifying that the next generation of dancers can carry on this important work. 

"Mason’s School of Dance is delighted to partner with Lucy and provide a home for the Dance for PD® Program in Northern Virginia,” said Karen Reedy, School of Dance Director. “We look forward to enriching the learning experience of our students by highlighting the impact of dance beyond the stage and fostering new connections with members of the Parkinson’s community.” 

Karen Reedy, Director, School of Dance

Assistant Professor for Mason’s School of Dance, Shaun D’Arcy adds, “Dance serves as such a natural conduit for bringing people together and promoting well-being. The Dance for PD® program has beautifully demonstrated this for years, touching so many lives. I truly can’t wait to welcome Lucy and class participants to the School of Dance this fall!”

Parkinson’s Disease is a neurodegenerative disease associated with the progression of motor dysfunction within the first 5 years of diagnosis. Notably, a July 2021 study published in Brain Sciences demonstrates a clear correlation between dance movement and the slowing of Parkinson’s Disease progression. Through applying research-backed techniques in-class instruction, Dance for PD® classes encourages exercise through music, during which participants report a decrease in physical symptoms and improved psychological benefits. Through such classes, BMDC has served over 900 people living with Parkinson’s since 2008.

Dance for PD® classes are free and open to the public with registration required. More information.