The first time I met Jorden Morris was after a very tense audition class. Three different couples had been selected to learn the roles of Peter and Wendy, and we stood anxiously in the grand studio, unsure of how to act around his new, momentous presence. After some quick introductions, Jorden stepped back slowly, as he does, and asked if anyone in the group was afraid of heights, adding an uneasy laugh that made me think if someone answered affimatively he was going to throw them out of the rehearsal then and there. I hesitated. Of course, in my head I was already reliving my first (and only) ferris wheel experience-traumatizing- and as much as I tried to smoosh it down, my aversion to all things ‘high up’ overwhelmed my mind in those next few seconds. I remembered the swing set I would escape to in my childhood backyard- the place where I learned of my first ever acceptance into FBP’s Nutcracker, as an angel at age 8. My memory seemed to take me for a ride, swinging up and down, holding onto chains encased in electric blue rubber, swinging higher and higher until I felt my stomach drop into my hips, a sensation that I have always disliked. I recalled all of those declined invitations to spend the day at an amusement park with friends, all of the embarrassment on a “trust building” school field trip, where I refused to harness up and jump off of a platform with the rest of my class.
Heights have always been my nemesis, anchoring me down to the safe, albeit slightly stagnant, ground. A few more seconds passed by and I looked around to see my colleagues shaking their heads nonchalantly. Jorden was smiling and it looked as if he was about to move on from his inquiry and begin teaching us choreography, but I couldn’t ignore my inner reminiscence any longer. I slowly raised my hand up and let my head sink into my shoulders like a dog who just got caught drinking out of the toilet. “Me”, I said, “I am not so good with the heights”, I admitted in a strange broken English that I’m still confused about. After my confession, Jorden made eye contact with me for the first time ever, strode towards me and stopped about 2 inches away from my face. “It’s really not such a big deal. You’ll be just fine. Let’s start learning, shall we, Wendy Girl?” His quick confidence caught me off guard. I was still nervous about the day I would have to swing from the top of the VETs stage, but I liked this man and his strong conviction. With a simple reassurance he had momentarily dissolved my fears and brilliantly distracted me with choreography. But I knew in a few months that day- the one where I would have to swing from the top of the VETs stage- would arrive. And, my dear friends, that day is today. Yup, today Peter, Michael, John, Tink and I head into the theater to practice our flying skills, and I’m a whole mess of emotions. Beginning with terrified, nervous, and maybe (to put a positive spin on it) excited to conquer a fear that has plagued me since childhood? Only one way to find out…WISH ME LUCK!
photo by Jim Turner