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Completely Sure They Can Dance: Nannette Brodie and the GWC Dance Department

Completely Sure They Can Dance: Nannette Brodie and the GWC Dance Department

By Martie Ramm Engle,
Visual & Performing Arts

Since 1975, Nannette Brodie has kept the dancers at Golden West College turning, jumping, and kicking – all in the name of dance. A full-time instructor and choreographer in the Golden West College Dance Department for over 30 years, Nannette has used her BFA in Art and Masters degree in Dance from California State University, Los Angeles, her years of dance study with the likes of modern dance pioneers Alwin Nikolais and Murray Louis, and her experience running her own dance company, the Nannette Brodie Dance Theatre, to help her students “develop as artists in a safe, creative atmosphere.”

Nannette Brodie attended San Gabriel High School, Pasadena City College and California State University, Los Angeles, while dancing all along the way. She has been trained in all types and styles of dance and credits her work with renowned dance artists Alwin Nikolais, Murray Louis, Janice Day, Bella Lewitzky and Dom Solinaro for her proficiency. She is an alumnus of the Nikolais-Louis Dance Lab in New York. Nannette performed and choreographed for the nationally acclaimed Los Angeles modern dance company, The Moving Company, from 1970-1978. She has also been on the dance faculties of CSU Chico and Long Beach, Loyola-Marymount University, and Long Beach City College.

The Nannette Brodie Dance Theatre was founded in 1986 as a contemporary dance company featuring her choreography, which has been performed in more than 300 venues worldwide. Nannette Brodie has been the recipient of many honors and awards including the Else Loudon Solo Award for her choreography at the Palm Desert Choreography Festival, the 2007 Distinguished Artist of the Year from the City of Long Beach, the Milestone Award for 25 Years of Performance from the Dance Resource Center of Los Angeles, and was nominated for a Lester Horton Dance Award for outstanding teaching in 2000.

When asked why she has remained at GWC when other professional experiences might be calling, Nanette simply states that she has “no reason to leave. I like working with the students a lot.” This semester, Nannette notes that the caliber of dance students is strong. “We are getting better dancers,” she boasts proudly. “I have a lot of high caliber dance students and students with dance experience who are well-trained. I also have a lot of students who are having their first dance experiences in our classes. The other teachers and I do our best to challenge the experienced dancers and develop new student dancers.” She also notes that the Golden West College Mainstage Theater is a great stage for dance concerts, so performing in another theater may be attractive, but our theater is perfect for dance. “It is an ideal place for me to create,” she emphasizes.

As with every department on the GWC campus, the Dance Department runs on the proverbial shoestring. They use recorded music as it allows the choreographers to employ a wide variety of music and because using live music simply costs too much. Nannette and the students create the costumes, relying on renting and borrowing costumes and reusing costume pieces as much as possible.

Nannette is not the only teacher/choreographer found in the GWC Dance Department, although she does teach ballet, modern, conditioning, jazz and choreography classes. Jeff Hendrix teaches jazz, salsa, swing and tap. Angelika Nemeth is a nationally known specialist in Middle Eastern dance. Rita Kyselka specializes in ballroom dance, Audrey Wilson teaches swing dance, and Erica Villalpando and Alexis Loffer offer modern dance.
With Nannette handling the lion’s share of choreography and with the addition of guest choreographers, the GWC Dance Department presents two fully staged dance concerts on campus each year. The next concert will be held May 21 and 22, 2010 on the Golden West College Mainstage.

Led for decades by Nannette Brodie and her team of talented instructors and choreographers, there is no question that the future of the Golden West College Dance Department continues to look rosy. The students who leap into the dance classes will be challenged to become the best dancers and best choreographers they can. Audiences can rest assured. The results will no doubt be a joy to watch.