Art of Love: Zachariah Baird and Michael Morris

By Columbus Alive
From the February 14, 2013 edition

Zachariah Baird and Michael Morris are surprised that they did not officially meet before they did because they frequently saw each other at Feverhead dance performances or theater shows.

“I always noticed that he walked so tall and perfect,” Baird said of his thoughts on Morris before he met him. “I thought about how he would not like me.”

To this Morris responded, “Yes, his brow was always furrowed and he was always a little frenetic. It was a cute nerdy thing, though.”

Baird even remembered walking past Morris on New Year’s Eve 2012 and wondering if they would ever talk to each other. Fifteen days later they did and have been together since in a polyamorous relationship.

Their first meeting, actually, was based on matters of artistic inquiry. Morris is a dancer and Baird is a performer who straddles comedy and theatrical performance art. Baird was interested in learning about pornography as art and a local choreographer and mutual friend said Morris had a similar interest (he is researching ecosexuality as part of his Ph.D. dance studies at Ohio State).

The two initially talked about the subject at hand but were immediately drawn to the other’s knowledge of varying theory. The fact that Morris, for example, was well-versed in the subject of writer George Lakoff’s use of semantic linguistics to deconstruct movement attracted Baird, a fan of Lakoff’s, whose theories often dovetail into his own writing.

Side effects of being artists in comedy and dance continue to overlap into their relationship in interesting ways. Both mediums require its creators to pay much attention to body language — comedians (and even more so, producers of stage shows, which Baird is) must watch the audience to gauge reaction, dancers must watch their partners and are very sensitive to what movement suggests.

This makes them better equipped to know what the other person needs or wants, but it also is beneficial when commenting on one another’s separate artistic performances. Baird can relay to Morris what the audience liked, and Morris can tell Baird in what moments he, perhaps unconsciously, reacted physically to a line or phrase of his work while performing.

They are learning from each other constantly.

“We communicate even through just the physical space we will put in between ourselves sometimes,” Morris said. “We’re always talking, even if it’s not directly. Like through his writing. There are so many ways we’re talking to each other.”