Coquitlam dancer and choreographer Kevin Tookey is one of four performers in Joe Laughlin’s world premiere of 4OUR that opens next week in Vancouver.
Tookey, who has danced with Laughlin’s company, Joe Ink, for the past six years, portrays various generations of himself: from child and teen to father and grandfather.
It’s a non-linear piece about family and memories; however, it has no specific narrative. In Tookey’s words, “it leaves a lot to the imagination.”
Like his character, Tookey is evolving, too. He is currently in transition though he has not made the official announcement to his peers yet. 4OUR will be, in fact, his final performance, closing a storied career that has taken him around the world and back.
Tookey started dancing at five with his mom, Shelley Tookey, who has owned Shelley’s Dance Company in Edmonton for 47 years (his sisters, Stacey and Kelci, are both professional dancers and his dad, Wayne, is also part of the business).
He admits his mom “didn’t really push me into dance. It was sort of the path to least resistance.”
His talent soon earned him scholarships to the Banff School of Fine Arts and the Edge Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles. Eventually, he moved to New York to become a soloist for Jazz Dance America.
He toured the globe, performing for renowned companies such as Carolina Ballet, Ontario Ballet Theatre, Move: The Company and Fusion Dance Company. In between, he gained a reputation as a director and choreographer (he clinched a nomination for TUTS’ Grease!) and appeared in television and films such as Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Once Upon a time and Reefer Madness.
There are A-listers on his resume: Debbie Allen, Sarah Jessica Parker, Liza Minnelli and Ciara, to name a few. And he’s had a few modelling gigs here and there.
But, to close his performance days, Tookey said he wanted to bow out with his friend Joe Laughlin.
The pair has known each other since Tookey was a ballet student in Banff; 4OUR will be the third time Tookey has appeared in one of Laughlin’s original works.
Tookey laughs about his young age for retirement but, at 37, a dancer’s body is similar to that of a competitive athlete’s, he said. At some point, you have to pack it in otherwise you can cause permanent damage.
This fall, he’ll be taking joinery and cabinetmaking classes at BCIT with a goal to own a furniture company. His mom is supportive of his decision, he insists, as is his wife, Liz, who is on the faculty at Encore Dance Academy in Port Coquitlam and at Tri-City Dance Centre in Coquitlam.
4OUR, he said, “is sort of my swan song for performing. It’s not sad. It’s like the show, which is about moving on and moving forward.”
• 4OUR runs Oct. 1 to 3 at the Scotiabank Dance Centre (677 Davie St, Vancouver), with a preview performance Sept. 30. Visit ticketstonight.ca.