Over the past three decades, Jan Johnson has helped build a robust dance community in Colorado Springs.
The founder of Ormao Dance Company, a professional modern and contemporary dance troupe, was recently recognized for her dedication with a Legends of Dance award from The Dance Archive. At the University of Denver, the archive is an endowed collection that seeks to promote all genres of dance and movement.
The prestigious, statewide honor comes as the company celebrates its 30th anniversary.
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“My colleagues say Jan, you’re supposed to sit back and enjoy this,” Johnson said. “But I have so many projects I’m working on. My core is telling me to keep working, but to slow down and appreciate the accolades.”
Johnson was nominated by Emily Murasaki, president of the Dance Alliance of Colorado Springs board, formerly known as Colorado Springs Dance Theatre.
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“We knew Ormao was celebrating its 30th anniversary as a company,” Murasaki said. “That in itself is quite an achievement in a town that’s sports-oriented, to run a dance school and studio and to have a company that is 30 years old.”
Colorado Springs Dance Theatre and Barbara Ellis of Barbara Ellis Studio of Dance each have won the award in the last decade.
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Thirty years ago, Johnson, a professional dancer, moved to the Springs and saw an absence of opportunities for dancers. So she adopted a “Field of Dreams” mentality: If you build it, they will come.
And they did. She’s brought numerous noted choreographers to town and dreamed up new works, including multiple site-specific pieces, such as “Pre-Press” in 2017, a dance installation in the old Gazette building on Prospect Street, and this summer’s “Dancing in the Absence of Water: An (Outdoor) Dance, Art and Music Festival at the Coyote” at Concrete Coyote, a community-built park in the Hillside neighborhood.
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