Irene Dowd was born in San Francisco. She earned her BA in philosophy from Vassar College, studied dance at Juilliard from 1968-70, anatomy and neuro-anatomy at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical School, and neurosciences at Columbia University’s Teachers College. She assisted Lulu Sweigard at Juilliard from 1968-74.
Dowd joined the Dance Division faculty in 1995 and teaches dance, composition, functional and kinesthetic anatomy, and neuromuscular re-education for dancers and movement teachers throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe. She has created numerous choreographies designed as dance warm-up and conditioning dances. She has written for numerous dance and sports publications and is the author of Taking Root to Fly, now in its third edition. Dowd is the recipient of the American Dance Festival’s 2014 Balasaraswati/Joy Ann Dewey Beinecke Endowed Chair for Distinguished Teaching honor, 2015 Juilliard John Erskine Faculty Prize, and 2016 Dance Science & Somatics Educators Lifetime Service Award.
Dowd is on the faculty of the graduate program in dance at Hollins University. She served as regular guest faculty at Canada’s National Ballet School (1995-2013), as well as on faculties of the graduate program in dance at Teachers College at Columbia University (1977-95), the graduate liberal studies program at Wesleyan University (1985-93), and as co-principal investigator in a University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing study on Effects of Neuromuscular Retraining on Mobility of the Elderly (1984-86).