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Jo Rowan

Jo Rowan

Jo Rowan,
Dance Chair and Dance Professor
School of Dance & Entertainment


Jo Rowan, director, and founder of The American Spirit Dance Company, is a nationally known master ballet teacher and performer and is professor of dance and chairman of the Dance Department within Oklahoma City University’s Ann Lacy School of American Dance and Entertainment.

Rowan, who was trained at Balanchine’s School of American Ballet New York City and the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow, holds degrees in design and dance from University of Cincinnati and has performed with Cincinnati Ballet, Dallas Ballet, Garden State Ballet, Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Dallas Opera, Philadelphia Opera, Tulsa Opera, Cincinnati Opera, and as a soloist at Radio City Music Hall. She has been a guest artist with the Baltimore Symphony, Kansas City Philharmonic, and Cincinnati Symphony orchestras. A member of Actors’ Equity Association, Rowan has appeared in more than 60 musicals. She has performed in New York City, as well as at Actors Theatre in Louisville, Maine State Theatre, Playhouse in the Park, Kansas City Civic Center, and Kansas City Starlight Theatre, to name a few. She has also appeared in numerous television commercials and was a regular on the PBS TV show, Consumer Survival Kit. Rowan performed at Lyric Theatre in Grand Hotel as the ballerina Grushinskaya and recently choreographed the Dream Ballet in Lyric’s production of Oklahoma!. She has also produced her own children’s show, which toured throughout the northeastern United States.

Rowan has taken The American Spirit Dance Company on tour in the United States as well as to Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, and China. Rowan has created dance instruction records, tapes, CDs, and videos on the Hoctor, Stepping Tones and Statler labels. She was the chief researcher for How To Make It In Musicals, Michael Allen’s authoritative book on developing a successful career as a musical theatre performer.

Formerly ballet mistress of Dallas Ballet, Rowan has taught for all major dance organizations in the United States and has been invited to serve as an Artist-in-Residence for the state of Oklahoma. She has conducted master classes at the St. Louis and Detroit Tap Festivals, has toured America as the ballerina with Dance Olympus, has taught for Dance America and Boston Ballet, and has adjudicated for the North American Ballet Festival Competition in Boston and the State of Tennessee’s Individual Artist Fellowship Award in Dance-Choreography.

In 2008, Rowan received the Oklahoma Chapter of the Association of Women in Communications' Byliner Award in the arts category. She has been featured on the cover of Oklahoma Woman Magazine, and was honored by Oklahoma Hospitality Club as a “Lady in the News.” In 2010 Oklahoma Magazine named Rowan one of the “7 Incredible Women of Oklahoma.” Rowan received the St. Louis Tap Festival’s 2001 Preservationist Award and served as a spokesperson for National Dance Week for 2002, 2003, and 2004, alongside Ben Vereen, Fayard Nickolas, and Tommy Tune. Rowan was on the Board of Directors for the 2011 National Dance Week Committee. Rowan received Dance Teacher magazine’s National Dance Teacher of the Year in Higher Education Award and in 2004 was inducted into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame. In 2006, Rowan received the prestigious Flo-Bert Award, the “Tony of Tap,” in New York City, and the National Dance Masters of America President’s Award, presented in Las Vegas. She also received a proclamation from the president of the Borough of Manhattan for contributing “significantly to the cultural life of Manhattan and all of New York City.” In 2008, she received a coveted “Traditions in Tap Award" in New York City. In 2009, the National Association of Dance and Affiliated Artists presented her with a Lifetime Achievement Award. The Association of Dance Conventions and Competitions presented Rowan with its 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award. The Annie Oakley Society of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum presented Rowan with its 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award. OKCFriday included Rowan in its 2016 listing of the five most powerful women in the arts in Oklahoma and its 2017 listing of the 100 most powerful women in Oklahoma. In both 2018, 2019 and 2020 Rowan was selected as one of the Journal Record's 50 Making a Difference during "The Woman of the Year" event. In April of this year, Rowan received The Governor's Arts Award in recognition of her longtime leadership and significant contributions to the arts across Oklahoma.

See photographs of Jo Rowan from throughout her career

Contact Information

Gaylord Center
Oklahoma City, OK 73106