Exclusive Q&A: Choreographer Stacey Tookey Can ‘Dance’

by | December 16, 2009 at 4:29 PM | So You Think You Can Dance, TV News

Stacy Tookey of 'So You Think You Can Dance' (Photo: CTV.ca)

Stacy Tookey of 'So You Think You Can Dance' (Photo: CTV.ca)

The sixth season of ‘So You Think You Can Dance‘ comes to a close Wednesday night when a winner is crowned.

Choreographer Stacey Tookey didn’t have any routines in the finale, but the Edmonton native continued to break into the American version of the show this season, after two seasons as one of the top choreographers on ‘So You Think You Can Dance Canada.’

Stacey took some time last week to talk to Victor Balta of Canadian of the Week about being an inspiration to young Canadians and being labeled by some as “the next Mia Michaels.” She also talked about why the judges on the American version of the show make her nervous.

Check it out:

Victor Balta: So, you don’t have any pieces in the finale. How do they even decide which choreographers they’re going to use from week to week?
Stacey Tookey: I don’t know, actually. A lot has to do with availability, I think. They’re constantly changing who they bring on and in what order. It’s just what they are feeling for that week, kind of.

VB: What has the transition from the Canadian show to the American one been like for you?
ST: it’s been definitely great for me. I was quite a smooth transition. I was surprised, myself, when they called me last season. I stepped in and got really good comments right off the bat, so it kind of shocked me a little bit. This season was great, and after (the first three episodes) I wasn’t available for the rest of the season. I’ve been conducting the “So You Think You Can Dance Canada” tour, so I’ve kind of been bouncing back and forth. I feel very blessed in how great I’ve been received here in the American show after the Canadian one.

VB: When Mia Michaels announced she wasn’t going to be on the show this season, a lot of people were call you “The Next Mia Michaels.” Did you hear any of that, and what do you think of the comparison?
ST: I have heard bits and pieces of it. It is crazy and, of course, super flattering. I’ve known her for several years, and I used to dance for her, so she is really close to my heart. So it’s such a compliment. I would love to step in to her shoes, and maybe go a different way, or a similar way. I feel like I’m inspired by all the people that I’ve worked with or trained under, or choreographed beside, so if people are seeing that inspiration, that’s really flattering.

VB: How are the judges different between the American and Canadian versions of the show? Who’s more likely to criticize the choreography?
ST: I haven’t had too much critique of my choreography by the Canadian or American judges, but I know that I’m more nervous sitting in the crowd at the American show, because they have been known to take down a choreographer or two. They’ll just say if they don’t like the routine, or say it’s the reason why (the dancers) are in the bottom. They can be a little more harsh, which I don’t think is a bad thing, to be honest, because it keeps the standards of the show up. Sometimes the way they say it is a little tough, but anything goes.

VB: And we can expect to see you back on the American version next season, right?
ST: I hope so. I haven’t heard otherwise.

VB: Now, you spent quite a while working with another prominent Canadian, Celine Dion, right?
ST: Yes, in Vegas. I was with her show the whole five years, from the creation of the show all the way to the closing day of the show and it was an amazing experience.

VB: Since you’ve moved to Los Angeles, what do you miss most about Canada?
ST: Oh, Canada! Well, I’m married to an American, but I miss being around Canadians. Canadians have this reputation of being really super nice people, genuine people, and it’s really true. There’s just this sense of community, I guess because there’s less people in Canada. But what I miss most is my family in Edmonton. I have a little sister who’s 17 years younger than me, and I miss her a lot. I don’t miss the snow in Edmonton, that’s for sure, although I’m going home for Christmas.

VB: What does it mean to you be recognized as a Canadian dancer?
ST: I’m so proud to be acknowledged as a Canadian dancer and choreographer, especially in the business here in the States, just because I’d like to inspire any young dancers in Canada and let them know they can do it. I think back to my youth and I couldn’t wait to get out of Canada and go to New York or L.A., you know, the grass is always greener. It was a hard climb for me, getting my visa, getting my green card, fighting against all kinds of dancers. But now to go back home and have young dancers come to me and say, “You paved the way and I believe I can do this now because you showed me how,” it just makes me proud.

VB: What’s one thing Americans should know about Canada or Canadians?
ST: That we don’t live in an igloo. That we don’t say “eh” after everything. That’s a really tough one, because there’s all these stereotypes. Oh, they need to know what a tuque is, first and foremost. Nobody knows what a tuque is in America.

Let’s see, I’m trying to think about the things that make me react the most, when people go, “That’s so Canadian.” I think we could get over the reputation of being passive and really sweet. We’ll fight hard for things we want, too. We’ll stand up and do what we’re proud of, for sure. But it’s mostly the little things — the “eh,” and people actually asking me if I live in an igloo.

Oh, one other thing: Americans should take one look at a map and learn all the provinces and the capitals. People always tell me, “Oh, I know the provinces. There’s Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver…” And I’m, like, “No, no, and no.” We share a border, and there are only 13 (provinces and territories).

VB: Last question, Molson or Labatts?
ST: Molson, hands down.