History of Modern Dance
During the 1920s, a passion for interpretive dancing swept America. Isadora Duncan’s fame and Denishawn’s tours had introduced audiences and dancers alike to the concept of a new form of serious theatrical dancing. The ground work had been laid for the first generation of modern dancers, who began developing the art as we know it today. This first generation included Martha Graham, Mary Wigman, Hanya Holm, Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman, Agnes de Mille, and Lester Horton.
Bio of Stacy Tookey
Born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Tookey began dancing in the basement of her house, where her mother operated a commercial dance studio. "I don't remember a time when I didn't dance," Tookey says. "I started taking classes when I was 2½. My mother trained me all the way until I was ready to start my professional career. There were other instructors, but my mother was my main teacher, and my inspiration."
When Stacy was studying at her mothers she took up almost every type of dance. And would compete and join new types of classes and enjoyed all of them.
It wasn't until she was much older that Tookey realized how unique her multifaceted training made her among professional dancers, most of who trained, trained in one form. Her eclectic background served her well throughout her career. When she was auditioning for a Bette Midler show, the choreographer asked if anyone could do any kind of ethnic dancing. "So there I went and pulled out my Highland fling," Tookey says. (She didn't get that job but did work with Midler on another project.) "And I've gotten other jobs because of my baton twirling, and also my figure skating, which was something else I did growing up."
At the age of 17, Tookey suffered a severe injury in London while representing Canada at the Royal Academy of Dance's Genée International Ballet Competition."I was jumping on pointe, doing a 'Coppélia' variation," Tookey explains. "In my head I thought I was just having pain from shin splints, but what was actually happening was I had stress fractures halfway through the bone on each of my legs, and they were breaking while I was dancing."
Though devastated at the time, Tookey now considers the injury a valuable experience: "I learned at a young age the importance of taking care of your health and your instrument. You only get one body." A year later, when her legs had healed, she landed a job as an apprentice with Ballet British Columbia. "But there was still the little girl inside of me who had taken all these different kinds of dancing," she says. "And while I'd thought being in a ballet company was my dream, I felt I was missing something."
Tookey took on an additional job as a dancer-cheerleader for the local NBA team, the Vancouver Grizzlies. "So here I was, in pointe shoes during the day, and then at night I'd change into my little shorts and combat boots and do hip-hop," she says. "I also explored a tap company for a while and danced in a jazz company in Vancouver as well. It was my time to dabble in a lot of different styles of work, and to grow up. Dancers forget that they need time for that. They're so eager to go out and hit New York or L.A. when maybe they're not ready yet."
Tookey eventually did hit New York, as well as Los Angeles, where she danced in a variety of small companies, opera productions, stage shows, and TV programs. After dancing for five years in Celine Dion's "A New Day" show in Las Vegas and assisting well-known choreographer Mia Michaels, Tookey was invited to choreograph for the Canadian version of "So You Think You Can Dance."
"I was completely honored, because I didn't have any real credentials as a choreographer," she says. "I just took a couple of my good friends from Celine's show, got in a studio, taught them some of my movement, and made sure to include partnering, because I know they use a lot of partnering on the show. Then I made a reel and submitted it. And the show just opened its arms to me and launched me into choreography."
The producers of the American version soon invited Tookey to choreograph for their program, and with her highly expressive contemporary movement style, she swiftly became a recognized creative force in the world of commercial dance-making. Having directed a "SYTYCD" live touring production, Tookey is now interested in becoming a director. "In many ways, choreographers are directors," she says. "They make decisions about costumes, lighting, and camera angles, so I think it should be a pretty easy crossover."