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Dance School, Chairman Earn National Honors

The Ann Lacy School of American Dance and Entertainment was ranked No. 2 in the country for BFA dance programs by OnStage. The accompanying story for the Top 10 BFA Dance Programs in the Country rankings noted that Oklahoma City University’s dance performance degree “is focused on developing employable dancers for the entertainment industry” and has extensive performance opportunities available. OCU ranked ahead of New York University and just behind Juilliard. OnStage is a media outlet devoted to covering performing arts news and trends.

OCU Dance Chair Jo Rowan will be honored next month by the Association of Dance Conventions and Competitions. The national nonprofit association will award its 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award to Rowan during the Industry Excellence Awards Gala, which will be held Sept. 21 to 23 in Las Vegas.

Rowan is a nationally renowned ballet dancer, choreographer and teacher.

“I’ve always said dancing is easy, but it’s hard to learn how to do it with ease,” she said. “I have strived to prepare performers who wanted professional careers with a gift of work that they love.

“In a competitive business like the world of entertainment, it is wonderful to hear dancers say, ‘They’re paying me for doing what I love.’ So to all of us who endeavor to bring quality dance education to audiences of all ages and to spread the joy of dance, this honor is very meaningful.”

Rowan has appeared in ballets, musicals and on television. She has toured globally with The American Spirit Dance Company, which she founded at Oklahoma City University’s Ann Lacy School of American Dance and Entertainment.

Rowan has served as a spokesperson for National Dance Week with Tommy Tune, Fayard Nicholas and Ben Vereen and was honored by Dance Teachermagazine as a National Teacher of the Year in Higher Education, among a variety of other honors and awards.

Members of the ADCC board said Rowan was selected for the award based on her vast experience, commitment to excellence and lasting influence in the field of dance.

Rowan and OCU Dance and Entertainment Dean John Bedford pioneered American dance in higher education, creating the world’s first collegiate program to emphasize tap, jazz and music theater dance at Oklahoma City University in 1980.

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