Today on the blog, I’m talking to my long-time friend and trapeze artist, Tiffany Holder. I first met Tiffany back when I was a teenager in a production of Peter Pan that we were both in with Cobb Children’s Theatre. We’ve been good friends ever since, and I even got to play a song at her amazing trapeze wedding in 2012. (Seriously! A trapeze wedding!) Tiffany is also a nurse, a mom, a fellow cat lover, a cellist, and one of the coolest people I know. I am so excited that she stopped by to talk creativity with me.
So here you go, everyone. An interview with Tiffany Holder.
How long have you been creating music/books/plays/films/etc.?
I started trapeze in 2002, but I do have a history in gymnastics, dance, and musical theater. Those skills definitely help, but they are not prerequisites to being a successful aerialist!
As a brief run through, I started flying trapeze at the Trapeze School Atlanta in 2002. Then, later that year, I moved and started dance trapeze at Canopy Studio in Athens, GA. During my 2 years in NYC, I was performing and teaching at The Trapeze Loft and SLAM in Brooklyn. After relocating to Philadelphia, I became part of Tangle Movement Arts, which is a circus arts company focusing on the queer and female experience using circus arts, dance, theater, and live music. We devise our work collaboratively, and every show tells a multi-dimensional story. I moved to Boston where I lived for 2 years and focused on hand balancing classes at Esh Circus Arts and still did trapeze during open workout hours.
I have just moved to Austin, TX and am working on getting established here.
How do you find time to be creative when you have a separate day job?
It’s a constant struggle! It’s something I make time for not just because I want to but also because it is what helps me feel centered and happy. As a nurse, my schedule is 12-hour shifts that are variable not just by which days of the week I work, but also can rotate from days to evenings to nights. It makes it hard to maintain a regular rehearsal schedule and not be exhausted or half asleep when other people are at totally normal times of day. It has taken a lot of flexibility from me and from the people I make art with. There’s also the mental load of working while also running through choreography and cues in my mind and also keeping up my strength and aerial practice with a hectic schedule.
My partner and I now have two kids who fit into this puzzle as well. Finding time for trapeze is harder when it’s not just my own schedule to consider, and childcare costs are no joke! Again, this only works because of being flexible and working with other artists who understand my constraints and often very specific scheduling needs around naps, bedtimes, breastfeeding, and babysitters.
I will say, in general, that finding time to be creative helps with the pressures of my day job. Being a nurse is emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting, and finding ways to release the built-up stress and emotional load is crucial.
Do you engage in any additional creative hobbies? Are there any you’d like to try?
I am also a cellist, and I have played in community orchestras in Georgia and New York City and was in a Beethoven quartet in Philadelphia. It’s often hard to find the right balance with this though since it’s important to me but also requires a time commitment and practice time.
I like journaling but don’t do it nearly enough. I partially succumb to the fear of leaving things in writing for my personal archive. It just feels so concrete and exposed when written down!
I also love photography, but although I still take a lot of pictures, I don’t carry my old manual Olympus camera anymore.
Who are some other artists and creatives that inspire you to create?
I am inspired by so many aerialists I have worked with at Canopy Studio in Athens, Georgia, The Trapeze Loft and SLAM in New York City, Tangle Movement Arts in Philadelphia, and Esh Circus Arts in Boston. I have had the most amazing teachers who led me to understand not just the tricks themselves but also delved more deeply into movement and expression. One of my teachers, in particular, emphasized improv, and that skill has led me to amazing choreography discoveries and fun creative sessions with friends. My fellow students in my earlier days were always an inspiration, and all of my circus colleagues now are continually creating new and innovative art that inspires me to look inside myself and see what I find that I want to share. Other artists I have worked with emphasized camp and performance art, and I absolutely loved learning to integrate that into my performances through their example. A more recent exploration I have made after being inspired by others is integrating some narrative into the aerial work, using excerpts from my own journals as voice-overs for my piece.
Why do you create?
It’s the only way I know how to be. If I’m not creating, I think I feel like my mind isn’t moving, and my body isn’t connected to me. It’s like I’m existing just outside myself. So I create because I want to. I need to. I thrive on it. And the relationships I have forged through creating performance art have been some of the most meaningful and important friendships and chosen family of my life.
What advice do you have for other creatives?
Find a way to do it — no matter what. I have had a lot of major distractions, cross-country moves, and changes, but it has always been worth it to me to find a new place for trapeze so that I could be as grounded as possible. (Pun intended here — being in the air makes me feel grounded!) I’ve found it to be the most focusing and fulfilling basis for building the rest of what I do for work, family, and other responsibilities. It’s a vulnerable place to be to put yourself out there, but it’s worth it.
What are you working on now?
Starting out in a new city again! Getting involved in a new aerial studio and meeting a new creative community. It’s a tough road, but it’s one I am thrilled to start down.
Where can people find you and your work?
- On the website for Tangle Movement Arts, based in Philadelphia
- Tangle Movement Arts demo reels
- Some older videos on youtube:
- A solo performed at SLAM in Brooklyn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JHxBcFeLxY&t=83s
- A solo performed at Canopy Studio in Athens, GA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHeVJVr6KWY
- A duet performed at Canopy Studio https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLXPLM1atrY
- A solo performed at SLAM in Brooklyn https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-IVc0X5S8o
- A duet performed at Canopy Studio https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKgx89c8r8s
Thank you so much for letting me pick your brain, Tiffany! I absolutely know what you mean when you say not taking the time to be creative makes you feel like you’re “existing outside of yourself.” And I love that being in the air makes you feel grounded!