Kevin Coyne has a CV as long as your arm. Over his performing career, which spans some fifteen to twenty years, he’s rubbed shoulders with some of the giants of the entertainment industry from David Atkins and Adam Garcia to Dien Perry to Caroline O’Connor.
Here's the interview with Kevin…
Who wouldn't want to learn from this guy? Check out what his students have to say…
His performance CV is impressive indeed – Mamma Mia, Chicago, Tap Dogs, Hot Shoe Shuffle, West Side Story… he’s done it all. Along with his business partner Michelle Slater (who has an equally long and illustrious performance CV) they now work as teachers at the Michelle Slater Performing Arts Studio.
We caught up with Kevin in between classes to get to know him a little better. I’m immediately struck by his shyness when it comes to talking about himself. He’s proud of the work he’s done, but clearly, sees it as “no big deal” when compared to others in his field.
When asked what show challenged him the most, Kevin was quick to respond: “The most challenging choreography that I got to do… and that’s what you are after as a performer, is the challenges, would have to be West Side Story. Jerome Robins is very technical, but also very Broadway. There was no cheating. It was a challenge, dance wise, to do, there’s no doubt about that, but it was such a beautiful show. The score is so beautiful and the other performers, like Marina Prior, Caroline O’Connor and Todd McKenney and other fantastic people, were great. The bar was set pretty high to do that show, so physically it was a tough, tough gig to do.”
“I loved the choreography. It was just fantastic and obviously Jerome Robbins set the show originally and we got to do what was apparently original choreography, so it was wonderful to dance every night. I was very lucky to have done some classic Broadway shows. I did Chicago, which was obviously Fosse and who could mess with that? It was just beautiful to do and again, and fantastic people to work with – Sharon Millerchip and Chelsea Gibb for example.
We move onto the topic of Hot Shoe Shuffle. Kevin remembers his time fondly and refers to the posse, some of which continued on with Tap Dogs as “The Boys”.
"I’d been working for David (Atkins) previously before I got the job in Hot Shoe Shuffle, but I still had to audition, because it wasn’t just David who was choreographing. Dein Perry was assisting him, well not just assisting, they were choreographing together, so Dein would do some of the numbers and David would do some on the numbers. So I auditioned and that’s where I met Dein and got the job. We went out to a place called Castle Hill in Sydney which is out of town, so it was a good old fashioned out of town try out. The show instantly went fantastic and people started to travel from Sydney to come and see the show, because it was such a fantastic show and no one knew what it was going to be like… we didn’t know what it was going to be like. We were still in workshop mode as such. So we went from six weeks in castle Hill and went into town because the show was going so well. From there we went from Sydney to Melbourne and then from Melbourne, off to London. So it was two years work, but it was just a wonderful experience, so good. Working with wonderful people like Rhonda Burchmore, who was so much fun, and David (Atkins) and obviously Dein and his wonderful choreography and, of course, all the boys, all of whom have gone on to different areas within the industry. Adam Garcia was in there. He went off and did Wicked, so it was a great cast and I was very lucky to be a part of it and it was great to be in. Good fun and a great show for a dancer . We got to sing, we got to act as well and all the boys had dialogue, so it was wonderful. It was a nice long run and the show was pretty well received in London. “
But Hot Shoe Shuffle was only the beginning. Dein Perry was working on the now legendary tap show, Tap Dogs.
“Dein set his own show, which was Tap Dogs. It was a great success as well. It had a completely different feel to Hot Shoe. The boys were from Newcastle and had a real grungy feel with the Blundstones and the flannelette shirts. The sets as well were fantastic, steel and wood. It was a very different style of tapping. It was very physical, there’s no doubt about that. It was probably the hardest hour of theatre performing I’ve ever done in my life. I know it was the same for all the boys, but we loved it. The show was beautifully constructed. It was a similar journey (to Hot Shoe Shuffle). It started in the Sydney Arts Festival and then we went on to London with the show."
I ask him how he’d sum up the life of a dancer. He smiles knowingly: “Ahhh.. the life of a dancer… It’s fantastic. I could not have wished for a better career. It was good for me. I had a wonderful time and I got to meet lots of fantastic people. I’ve traveled constantly for fifteen years. I lived out of a suitcase, well not even a suitcase.. it was a big sports bag. I traveled around the world and I didn’t stay longer than six months anywhere in the world. No contracts were ever that long. For me, the life of a dancer was fantastic. There was always the 'What am I going to do next?' question in my head, but something always came along. I was never out of work for longer than a couple of months over that fifteen year period. You get up a little bit later than the rest of the workforce and off you go and do your eight shows a week. People love to watch what you do.. most of the time and it’s a very easy way to make a living, if you can make a living out of it."