This week I had the privilege to speak with Tiffany Rea-Fisher, of the acclaimed Elisa Monte Dance Company (EMD) who was recently appointed to be the new Artistic Director for the company founded by Elisa Monte.
Tiffany comes from a competition dance background from California. Believe it or not, she actually had no intention to pursue dance as a career! Growing up, she didn’t know that was something you could do, outside of ballet. Modern dance wasn’t something she was familiar with.
When it came time to apply to college, she did decide to study dance and applied to a few schools. She ended up auditioning and getting accepted to SUNY Purchase. Unfortunately around that time, Tiffany had a knee surgery and SUNY Purchase was the only audition she could attend. As a student, Tiffany had the opportunity to do a study abroad program in Burgos, Spain. While she was there, she got her first taste of touring life as dancer.
After graduation, Tiffany was dancing with a group as part of the Lincoln Center Out of Doors series, Dance Anonymous in Cyprus, and Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion.
Tiffany had two friends who were part of EMD and wanted her to audition for the company, however she didn’t think it was a good fit. She later decided to do a workshop with the company. She wasn’t planning to do the whole week, but thought that if she got noticed during the first two days of the workshop, she would stay. And of course, that is exactly what happened! Elisa noticed her, and she finished the week long workshop.
Later on, Elisa was holding auditions for the company. Tiffany attended, but the odds were pretty high. There were 75 people who showed up for one opening. And to top it all off, it was not clear if that one opening was for a male or a female! But, Tiffany got the spot in the company. It was clear Elisa had taken an interest in her.
As soon as Tiffany joined the company, she had to step up pretty quickly. As she was coming in, a few company members were leaving. Tiffany was then given several lead roles. From here, she became a lead dancer for eight years.
In addition to being dancer for the company, Tiffany took an interest in arts administration. She was very curious as to how things worked and wanted to learn. During her first week with the company, Tiffany asked if she could intern administratively. The staff couldn’t believe her request, but she was very serious and they let her work in the office. Tiffany was very dedicated. She would come in early and work either before or after rehearsal. At one point, Tiffany asked if she could help write a grant for the company. She knew she didn’t have much experience, but thought she would give it a try anyway. The company did receive the grant. It was a 3-year grant for arts education programming. It was from this, she became the Director of Education for the company.
In addition to doing education program, Tiffany worked very closely with Elisa on touring, budgeting, and finance. She also shadowed many people in the office so that she could learn more about how the company operated.
As EMD celebrates its 35th anniversary, Elisa will step down from her role as Artistic Director at the end of their season as she passes the torch to Tiffany. 35 seems to be the magic number! Elisa was 35 when she started the company, and on its 35th anniversary, Elisa turns the company over to Tiffany, who will be turning 35!
As the new Artistic Director, Tiffany hopes to keep the budget in the black, keep choreographing, have a happy staff, but most importantly keep the EMD as the EMD. She has no intention of changing the company into something else. If she wanted to do her own thing, she would have done it already. If anything, Tiffany wants to preserve Elisa’s legacy. She does however, want to grow and expand the company by branching out to include technology and engage other disciplines.
When I asked Tiffany how does it feel to be named Artistic Director by Elisa, she replied, “I feel like a rock star!” She mentioned how it is very special to be handpicked by Elisa and is very honored to step into her new role. She is very grateful and couldn’t imagine being anywhere else! The transition was a long time in the making. Over the past 7 years, Tiffany was mentored by Elisa. Elisa was definitely grooming Tiffany for this role a long time before she even realized. She did have her fears about being accepted, all felt she was the obvious choice and the dance community has shown nothing but love and support.
If you haven’t gotten your tickets for the 35th anniversary season, be sure to do so now! This will be a show not to miss. Tiffany will be doing a solo of Elisa’s Run to the Rock for the opening night gala, will be participating in the alumni night performance of Elisa’s Shattered, and will have the world premiere of Newton’s Cradle.
For more information about the company, please visit their website at: www.elisamontedance.org.
The Elisa Monte Dance 35th anniversary season will be held at the City Center for the Performing Arts at Aaron Davis Hall March 2-5 with performances and a gallery exhibit. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased through the box office here or or the phone at 212-650-6900.
Here is a preview of Elisa’s newest work Pangaea, set to premiere on Friday, March 4: