A world-renowned dancer, master ballet teacher and choreographer, Jo Rowan is director and founder of The American Spirit Dance Company at Oklahoma City University, where she is also professor of dance and chairman of the Ann Lacy School of American Dance and Arts Management. Since founding The American Spirit Dance Company, Rowan has taken the troupe on tour in the United States as well as to Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and China.
Rowan, who was trained at the School of American Ballet and Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet, has performed with a number of highly regarded companies, including the Cincinnati Ballet, the Dallas Ballet, the Garden State Ballet, the Metropolitan Ballet, the Dallas Opera, the Philadelphia Opera, the Tulsa Opera, the Cincinnati Opera and as a soloist at the Radio City Music Hall.
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 Oklahoma. She has conducted master classes at the St. Louis and Detroit Tap Festivals, has toured America as 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. She has created dance instruction records, tapes, CDs and videos on the Hoctor, Stepping Tones and Statler labels and was the chief researcher for “How To Make It In Musicals,” Michael Allen’s authoritative book on developing a successful career as a musical theater performer.
Throughout her career, she has performed in more than 60 Actor’s Equity musicals and has performed in New York City, as well as at Actor’s Theater in Louisville, Maine State Theater, Playhouse in the Park, Kansas City Civic Center and Kansas City Starlight Theater, just to name a few. In addition to her theater and dance performances, Rowan has appeared in numerous television commercials and was a regular on the PBS TV show, “The Consumer Survival Kit.” She has also produced her own children’s show, which toured throughout the northeastern U.S.
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 has received the St. Louis Tap Festival’s 2001 Preservationist Award and served as spokesperson for National Dance Week for 2002, 2003 and 2004, alongside Ben Vereen, Fayard Nickolas and Tommy Tune. 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 in New York a coveted “Traditions in Tap Award.” In 2009, the National Association of Dance and Affiliated Artists presented her with a Lifetime Achievement Award.