Evening of Pas De Deux: Couple makes trip to Chautauqua to fall in love all over again

A dozen red roses, a Swarovski diamond necklace, a box of gourmet chocolates. While these are all nice gifts, it’s hard to beat the man who had a ballet created especially for his wife, to commemorate the first time they met.

Excerpts from At First Sight will be performed during the North Carolina Dance Theatre’s annual “Evening of Pas De Deux” at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amphitheater.

In 2012, Sasha Janes, NCDT associate artistic director, was approached by a man named Michael Tarwater. He wanted to surprise his wife, Ann, with a ballet reliving the first time they met.

Tarwater explained to Janes that he had gone to a party alone. As a song started playing, a woman in a beautiful white dress jumped up out of her seat and began dancing. Tarwater knew right then and there that the free-spirited woman was the one he would someday marry.

The couple has now been married for 27 years.

Janes choreographed the ballet according to Tarwater’s story, and they continued to meet secretly for about six months prior to the piece’s premiere.

“I told [Janes] a story, and he added music and dance and made it come to life again,” Tarwater said.

On the eve of her birthday earlier this year, Ann sat in the audience of the ballet’s world premiere completely unaware of what she was about to see.

“I’m not sure how much she saw of opening night because of tears in her eyes,” Tarwater said. “But to be honest with you, I was right there with her.”

The couple has now seen the ballet at least five more times, and each performance has been more spectacular than the last, Tarwater said.

At First Sight is originally a 15-minute ballet, but tonight NCDT dancers Sarah Hayes Watson and David Morse will be performing a solo and a pas de deux from the piece. Those roles have been exclusively performed by Watson and Morse since the piece’s debut.

Tarwater had shown pictures of his wife to Janes, Watson and Morse before they had the chance to meet her. Watson actually has a striking resemblance to Ann when she was younger, Morse said. When Watson found out that the woman had gotten up at a party and danced by herself, she truly felt the similarities of their free-spirited personalities.

The Tarwaters will be flying to Chautauqua just to see their story performed on the Amp stage tonight. Michael Tarwater plans to pilot a plane himself, visiting the Institution with his wife for the first time.

Watson and Morse are both very well aware that every time they perform the piece they are representing one of the most important moments in the Tarwaters’ lives.

“It’s very rare that you’re part of something that is so dear to someone,” Morse said.

Watson agreed, adding that “it’s the kind of piece that you want to do justice to … every time.”