Dance Instructor Patti Cox, Reminisces on Golden Era

MICHAEL COLEMAN
El Vaquero Staff Writer

Patti Cox is not just another dance instructor at GCC. Cox had a long prominent career as a dancer in the wonderful world of show business.

Cox has been a dance professor at GCC for 25 years.

In 1981, she started teaching ballet and now she teaches tap dance classes. She has been dancing since the age of 4. Cox grew up in Burbank and attended Burbank High School. “I consider myself a valley girl!” said Cox as she lets out a joyful laugh.

Growing up in the 1950s, ’60s and even the ’70s, there was a lot of work for dancers on TV shows and movie musicals, according to Cox. There was the “Ed Sullivan Show” and “The Red Skeleton Show” on which Cox performed. She’s also danced hand in hand with Lucille Ball on “I Love Lucy.”

Cox’s impressive resume includes movies and musicals such as “Carousel,” Rogers and Hammerstein’s 1955 “Oklahoma!” “Anything Goes” starring Bing Crosby, “There’s No Business Like Show Business” and “Silver Chalice” just to name a few.

According to Cox, for dancers of this generation, the job market is not sufficient enough. The only jobs young people today may be able to find are the jobs on MTV she said. “There’s just not enough work out there like there was in my day,” Cox adds.

“Today’s dancers are brilliant; there are so [many] more difficult moves and steps than back in my day,” Cox said as she took off her tap shoes.

Jessica Ashby, a second-year student at GCC, who has just joined Patti Cox’s tap class said, “I love this class. I have not tapped in a while, this is a good workout and Patti is awesome.”

In 1960, Cox was a part of the Arizona gymnastics league. “Dancing really beat my body down,” Cox said as she put her CD’s into her little roller-luggage. It seems that nothing can slow down this jazzy tap teacher, not even the four rods and six screws in her back.

It is hard to believe when you look at Cox, that this sweet little lady used to be a weight lifter. “I was a competitive body builder. Yeah, I qualified to go to Atlantic City for the finals,” Cox said. One of the reasons she did not go to the finals is because that “back in those days you had to pay your own entry fee and the fees were pretty expensive.”

“We’re gonna learn a new step which I think is fun, it’s called the Sneaky Pete!” Cox informed her students as she crept on her tippy toes looking like a burglar sneaking into a jewelry store.

Cox often attracts a crowd who watch her instruct her students. She often invites people walking by the classroom to come and watch or join the class. Not many teachers do that; Cox is truly one of a kind.

It seems that all of the students that have taken Cox’s class adore her. “Patti Cox; she is a wonderful lady, a good teacher,” said Anoush Alexanian, second time student of Cox’s tap class.

“She is the best teacher at GCC!” said Narc Vanetsiaix. Narc is a current student of Cox. “I’ve taken Patti’s tap dance class [for] two semesters because she is patient and a kind teacher. I feel nice after taking her classes.”

Patti Cox is a dedicated person who loves her profession; dance and teaching. Her words of advice to those students trying to make it out there in the world of dance are to start with the beginnings, whether it be tap, ballet, jazz or hip-hop. “Come to Glendale College and take dance classes. The cheapest dance classes in the world right here at Glendale College,” Cox said as she left the dance room with her roller-luggage.