The American Spirit Dance Company, founded and directed by Professor Jo Rowan, presents an annual holiday season extravaganza, Home for the Holidays – A Gift of American Dance, each December. In March, the American Spirit Dance Company presents the Spring Show, a Broadway-style revue featuring tap, jazz, and musical theatre-style dances. In April, specially selected dancers and arts management students form an American Spirit Touring Company to perform in domestic and international venues.
Jo Rowan, director of The American Spirit Dance Company and chairman of the Oklahoma City University Dance Department, began the American Spirit Dance Company for the purposes of celebrating America's unique contributions to dance through jazz, tap, and musical theatre and providing students with professional performance opportunities.
Since 1981, The American Spirit Dance Company has inspired audiences with pride in American dance with all its joy and optimism for life. The American Spirit is critically acclaimed in the United States and overseas and has become one of the premiere performing ensembles in central Oklahoma.
Over the years, the Oklahoma City University dance program with its outstanding faculty has achieved international stature as a leader in preparing dancers and managers for professional careers in the entertainment industry.
Former Oklahoma City University dance and arts management students may be found working from Oklahoma to Broadway and from Tokyo to the capitals of Europe. Former members of The American Spirit have appeared on Broadway in the following musicals: Crazy for You; Jerome Robbins' Broadway; Gentlemen Prefer Blondes; A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum; 42nd Street; Fosse; Smokey Joe's Cafe; Tommy; Chicago; Show Boat; Dreams; Fascinating Rhythm; Saturday Night Fever; You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown; Steel Pier; On The Town; Guys and Dolls; Hello Dolly!; The Boy from Oz, Wicked, Phantom of the Opera Sunset Blvd., The Music Man, Hairspray, White Christmas, Follies, Annie Get Your Gun, Civil War, A Chorus Line, Grease, In the Heights, Dance of the Vampires, Taboo, West Side Story, The Producers, Le Cage aux Folles, Rent, Anything Goes, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Memphis, Frogs, My Fair Lady, Kiss of the Spiderwoman, Will Rogers Follies and Peter Pan.
Tournament of Roses Parade Performance
The American Spirit Dance Company had the distinct honor of ringing in 2007 with an internationally televised performance in the opening ceremonies of the Tournament of Roses Parade. The American Spirit Dancers performed with Oklahoma City University's own alumna, Kristin Chenoweth, in the opening number of the parade. The 35 students performed supported by 4 dance management and entertainment business majors serving as assistant stage managers. The performance marked the beginning of the official celebration of the 100th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood.
Flo-bert Awards Performance
Each year, the Flo-Bert Awards honors excellence in the world of tap dance. The American Spirit Dance Company was invited to perform in 1999, 2006, and 2008. On May 28, 2006, the tap awards ceremony in New York City honored Chairman Jo Rowan and Dean John Bedford.