Stacey Tookey

An articulate storyteller, Stacey Tookey creates emotionally driven choreography that fuses the fluidity of ballet with the grit of hip hop and the poignancy of contemporary dance. Born in Canada, Tookey grew up training at her mom’s studio. She has worked with Justin Timberlake and Bette Midler and performed with Ballet British Columbia, Mia Michaels’ company R.A.W. and in Celine Dion’s hit Vegas show A New Day. Today, she’s best known for her work on “So You Think You Can Dance,” where she’s a recurring choreographer and guest judge. (Her Season 6 number, “Fear,” for Kathryn McCormick and Legacy, earned her an Emmy nomination.) Be sure to catch her classes at NUVO Dance Convention, where she’s on faculty. —Leah O’Donnell

Dear Stacey,

Don’t let fear hold you back.Being scared is an essential part of life. If you believe in your talent, you’ll discover that you’re the only person standing in your way.

Work hard at achieving perfection, but don’t beat yourself up. Being overly self-critical works to your disadvantage. (When you roll your eyes at yourself because you messed up a combination, it can be perceived as having a bad attitude.) Lighten up! It’s OK to make mistakes.

You’ll have ups and downs, but trust in the fact that you’re on the right track. Try not to be in a hurry to achieve everything all at once, because if you rush you’ll miss the fun of it all. The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Love,

Older and (a bit) wiser

Stacey Tookey

P.S. Take singing lessons!

Latest Posts


Viktorina Kapitonova in "Swan Lake Bath Ballet" (photo by Ryan Capstick, courtesy Corey Baker Dance)

Please Enjoy the Quarantine Genius of “Swan Lake Bath Ballet”

That old saying about limitations breeding creativity—hat tip to Orson Welles—has never felt more relevant than in these lockdown days. Here's the latest brilliant dance project born (hatched?) of quarantine restrictions: "Swan Lake Bath Ballet," a contemporary take on the classic featuring 27 A-list ballet dancers performing from their own bathtubs.

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Project 21 dancers (from left) Selena Hamilton, Gracyn French, and Dyllan Blackburn (Photo by Quinn Wharton; hair and makeup throughout by Angela Huff for Mark Edward Inc.)

How Project 21 Is Shaping the Next Generation of Competition-Dance Standouts

"I wish I had a better story about the name," says Molly Long, founder of the Orange County, CA–based dance studio Project 21. In truth, it's a play on the fact that she was born on the twenty-first of August, and 21 is her favorite number. "I was away on a teaching tour, the audition announcement was going live on Instagram the next day, and I desperately needed a name. Project 21 was just the least cheesy of the options I thought of!"

The fact that fans might expect the name to have some profound meaning speaks to the near-mythic status Project 21 has achieved on the competition and convention scene since its founding in 2014. Long's dancers are all wholly individual, yet jell seamlessly as a group, and are consistently snagging top prizes everywhere on the circuit. Each season brings a slew of new accolades, high-caliber faculty, and legions of devoted followers.

The industry has taken notice of the studio's unique ethos. "Molly gets through to her dancers in a special way, and they have this incomparable level of commitment to their craft as a result," says dancer and choreographer Billy Bell, who's worked closely with Long and her dancers. "That's what sets them apart—it's like a little dose of magic."

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