Artistic Director, Elisa Monte Dance
TIFFANY REA-FISHER (Artistic Director of Elisa Monte Dance) subscribes to the servant leadership model and uses disruption through inclusion as a way to influence her company’s culture. In the spring of 2018, she was awarded a citation from the City of New York for her cultural contributions. Tiffany is also a Bessies Selection Committee Member. Tiffany added a second directorship to her title when she was named Co-Director of the Lake Placid School of Dance. Tiffany is currently in her fourteenth year with the NYC-based internationally acclaimed dance company Elisa Monte Dance (EMD). Tiffany joined EMD in 2004 where she was principal dancer until 2010. She was named Dance Magazine’s “On the Rise” person for their 2007 August issue based on her 2006 performance at the Joyce Theater in New York City. As a choreographer, Tiffany has had the pleasure of creating numerous pieces for EMD most notably meeting and having her work performed for the Duke and Duchess of Luxembourg. Recently Tiffany’s works have been on the Joyce stage as well the Apollo, Joe’s Pub, Aaron Davis Hall and New York Live Arts in New York City. Tiffany’s work extends well beyond the stage creating work for the film, fashion, theater and the music industry. As well as being EMD’s Artistic Director, sheis also the Co-Founder of Inception to Exhibition, Dance Curator for the Bryant Park Summer Series, Vice President of the Stonewall Community Development Corporation, Advisory Board member of Dance/NYC and proud member of Women of Color in the Arts.
I am a champion of Civil Rights. I feel compelled to celebrate you as you are, and that is reflected in my work. Working in the modern dance aesthetic, as a Black female, I’ve been able to discover first hand the beauty of this truly American art form. Modern dance was created by Americans as a form of rebellion. A direct protest to injustice, societal norms and expectations. For me, modern dance is more than just a style of dance but a moment of American history captured in dance vernacular. Accessibility/tangibility is essential to me as it relates to my audience. No matter how you identify there is space for you at an EMD performance.
My personal ambition is to live an impactful, well-lived and happy life. My business ambition is to have a company of well-rounded artists that are able to make their living through working with me and when it is time for us to part ways they leave a better person and dancer than when they first started with me.
There have been so many. I feel extremely lucky to have lived the life I have. I’ve been married 10 years and I am still madly in love so that’s amazing, I am running a company I learned about in my dance history class so that’s pretty incredible. I am on faculty at Steps on Broadway which was where I took my first professional class in NYC when I was young. I get to travel the world and inspire the next generation of dancers so it’s all gold as far as I’m concerned.
My first year as Artistic Director was definitely a gut punch. But a necessary experience that allowed me to find my inner strength.
Be unapologetically yourself and do no harm
My entire family. I come from a family of bosses there is no shortage of inspiration and support
Show Up Fully Present
Be Kind and Patience
It’s Not That Deep
My Pic of the Day: Sometimes feel like a bit of an outsider in the field but it has served me well.
A Day in My Life:
What do you love most about Your City? diversity/anonymity
Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant? Dinner is my favorite breakfast meal. Favorite Restaurant is Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecote
My favorite breakfast if I have to eat breakfast consists of Earl Grey Tea, Oatmeal, Banana Nut Bread
My favorite restaurant in Harlem is Maison Harlem.
My favorite restaurant on the road is Cracker Barrel
What are you doing at:
6:00 AM – Turning off my alarm
10:00 AM – Teaching Company Class
12:00 PM – Favorite Lunch spot/meal? My desk and whatever is in my backpack
7:00 PM – At the EMD office
11:00 PM – Working on across the floor combos for my class
What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?
During the day, Earl Grey or Tumeric Tea and “Belvida Breakfast Bars”, and at night an Old Fashion.
Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?
My favorite instagram account is @elisamontedance, @itearts and @simply_madisonjade
What should everyone try at least once?
Go to Santana’s in Little Exuma, Bahamas and try their grouper
Where do you enjoy getting lost?
My Native AdVice:
How did you get into the industry?
I have always been athletic and enjoyed physical activity. As a child I ran track and competed in dance competitions. Growing up in California on the competition circuit, I did not know that a career in dance could be more than music videos and dancing back up for a pop star. It was not until college that I was exposed to Modern Dance. As a student at SUNY Purchase, I was motivated to absorb as much information about Modern Dance as possible. I felt as though I had a lot to catch up on, but more importantly I was inspired by the human aspect of Modern Dance. Modern Dance allowed me to see dance in a new light, aside from the commercial world I can come from. In Modern Dance I found my truth and my voice as an artist. During my exploration into the history of Modern Dance I discovered Elisa Monte and Elisa Monte Dance. That college freshman would one day grow up to become the Artistic Director of that exact company.
Career advice to those in your industry?
I always tell young aspiring dancers that there is no back up plan if you want to be an artist. A career in dance requires 100% of your mind, body and spirit, therefore if your energies or mental capacities are split between dance and your “back up plan” you will be unable to reach or achieve your full potential in either field. Commit to yourself, your art and your future whole heartedly. Yes, this requires an enormous amount of courage, but courage is an essential part of being an artist. It takes an incredible amount of courage to share your vulnerabilities with an audience, so take the courage that lives inside you and apply it to the pursuit of your dreams. Dance training translates incredibly well to any field, believe in your drive and the incredible work ethic instilled in us as dancers, and know those skills will translate no matter where you end up.
Any emerging industry trends?
An industry trend that excites me is taking dance into unlikely spaces. I work a lot with museums, fashion designers, and theater, for example, to create new and interesting avenues for modern dance to exist. For me, taking dance out of the traditional proscenium space and putting it into an unexpected place, such as a museum or a pub, gives modern dance a new type of relatability. Experiencing Modern Dance outside of its traditional venue allows for a new point of entry for people to realize they actually do enjoy dance. This strategy is a part of my bigger mission of how to bring modern dance into the future. Failing to collect a new, younger fan base, will result in the loss of our beloved art. Seeing dance for the first time in an environment that is more relaxed or informal allows for the audience to fully participate in the experience without judgment.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
My art is centered around the ideology that each piece is created with the individual artist, venue and audience in mind. It is crucial that every EMD performance feels customized and experiential. I take close and careful consideration of not only the content of my work but how it is shared and received. It is important to me that my audience feels like they are part of the work and are more than just an outside spectator because they are essential to the success of the work. When creating new pieces, I tend to work backwards, meaning that my initial inspiration is what feeling I want my audience to leave with. I believe art should directly serve the demographic it is presented to. An EMD performance should empower, inspire and reinvigorate the community being served. My work should directly benefit the audience, uplift the community and inspire all involved to unapologetically live their best life.
How do you motivate others?
I subscribe to a servant leadership model I use the esteem that comes with my position as Artistic Director to deeply consider what is best for each individual. I see people for who THEY are and customize my interactions with them accordingly, motivating them to reach their maximum potential. I believe that dance has the power to heal by bringing the joy of life back to the forefront. I see dance as joy in the physical form. As an artist, I understand that my message is bigger than just a sequence of steps. I have witnessed the power of dance and seen it change lives. My mission as an artist is to use the dance vocabulary to empower others.