Teri Vance: Finding home a strange city

I’m writing this week from New York City — overlooking midtown Manhattan to be precise.

How did I get here? The short answer is a rather torturous red-eye flight. But the longer answer begins a few years ago.

I took my niece Emma to see the Pinkerton Ballet Theatre’s production of the “The Nutcracker” at the Carson City Community Center when she was 8 years old.

It was shortly into the ballet when she leaned over and asked, “Do they talk in this?”

I realized she was much too young to appreciate a ballet, when she was more used to the talking animals of a Disney movie.

I explained to her there’s no speaking in a ballet, but at intermission — which is like halftime — we could leave if she was bored.

So we watched the first act. At intermission, she asked, “Is this halftime?”

I told her it was and that we could leave if she wanted.

“No,” she replied in a wondrous whisper, “I love it.”

And that’s when her love of theater was born.

In the years following, she performed with Pinkerton. We got dressed up, went to dinner then to high school performances.

At Dayton Middle School, she joined the drama club. At Dayton High School she continues with drama, even writing and directing her own play last year.

So as her 16th birthday approaches this month, her mom wanted to give her a gift she wouldn’t forget.

She surprised her with a weeklong trip to the Big Apple and tickets to the Broadway show, “Wicked.”

My mom and I tagged along to make it a full-fledged girls trip.

While I’ve been to New York before, I had never been to a Broadway show. I don’t think I ever would have, if not for Emma.

But it was magic.

The story, the songs, the dancing … it was a whirl of entertainment. But the most satisfying for me was to be a part of the fulfilling of a dream for my niece.

To show her the grandest of dreams start in a community theater, in people doing what they love and sharing their passions.

In the play, the main character Elphaba, also known as the Wicked Witch of the West in the “Wizard of Oz,” decides to fight for what she knows is right.

She sings, “Something is not the same

“I’m through with playing by the rules

“Of someone else’s game

“Too late for second-guessing

“Too late to go back to sleep

“It’s time to trust my instincts

“Close my eyes and leap!

“It’s time to try defying gravity.”

That same wonder I saw in the little girl’s face in Carson City, I saw on a teenager in New York City.

As beautiful as this city is, it reminds me how lucky we are to live where we do.

Teri Vance is a journalist, freelance writer and native Nevadan. Contact her with column ideas at terivance@rocketmail.com.


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