Choreographer Stacey Tookey Shares How Dance Makes Her Feel Alive

April 17, 2024

When I was young I quickly realized there was no better feeling than when I was dancing. Growing up with my mom owning a dance studio, I was always engaged in dance, either watching it, doing it, or dreaming of it. I never thought of doing anything else with my life. It was and still is the one thing that makes me feel the most myself…the most alive. Dance offers the gift of being deeply seen, a way to process emotions, a never-ending challenge, an escape.

As a professional dancer I was fortunate to have a wonderful career filled with highs. I remember the opening night of A New Day… in Las Vegas, dancing beside Celine Dion for thousands of people. I felt like I was flying—I couldn’t believe this was my life.

With the highs there also came lows: injury, sickness, endless auditioning, being a Canadian trying to work in the U.S. But I never gave up. Even during the darkest times, I would go into the studio, turn some music on, and return to the real reason why I danced. I would tap into that “aliveness” that fills my heart and soul, and it always gave me fuel to continue.

As a choreographer and director, I now experience that aliveness through my dancers, through the work I create, and through mentoring the next generation of young artists. This alternate expression of this aliveness is an extension of what I feel inside, a desire to share that connection to the aliveness with others.

Now, as I get older, and the demands on my body through my career have changed how I can dance, I still know why I do it. I do it for the energy that comes alive in my body that doesn’t show up any other time. Filling every cell with pure electricity and allowing me to bask in sensation while everything else melts away. It’s like a secret superpower. And the beautiful thing is it doesn’t need me to be dancing like I did when I was 25. It can also be found in a slower movement, a gentle improvisation, a deep listening. It is an authentic connection to the truest part of me, one that brings me joy and whispers, “Stacey, you are alive.”