Commissioned ballet to capture Haucks’ lifetime of love

Terrie Hauck still remembers the day she met the love of her life.

Her cocker spaniel, Joe Cocker, had been lusting after a cute Pomeranian down the street. The neighbors got sick of Joe Cocker showing up in their front lawn uninvited and excited, and called the police. The next thing Terrie knew, her dog was being escorted to her house in the back of a cop car.

Luckily for Terrie, a loose dog mandates a trip to criminal court in the state of Virginia.

She had no way of knowing that her dog had led her straight to her future husband, a man named Jimmy Hauck who, 37 years later, she would commission a ballet for in memoriam at Chautauqua Institution.

At the courthouse, Terrie waited patiently in line behind a man charged with armed robbery and another indicted with assault and battery. When she followed them to the bench and told the judge she was there to plead guilty to a disobedient dog, the whole courtroom laughed, including a handsome blond man chuckling in the back row.

“Go easy on him, Your Honor,” she told the judge. “It’s his first offense.”

As Terrie left the room, Joe Cocker’s name cleared, she locked eyes with the blond man. She passed him again on the sidewalk as she left the courthouse, and when he congratulated her on her dog’s newfound freedom, she invited him to grab a cup of coffee. The man was Jimmy, and a year and a half later, they were married.

Joe Cocker, the matchmaking guest of honor, was in attendance at the ceremony, wearing a smart pink bow for the occasion.

The lighthearted humor of the Haucks’ first meeting, and the warmth and affection with which Terrie now recalls it, are all emotions that translated into their long marriage and into Jimmy’s life until he passed away in December 2012. These are also the emotions that Terrie hopes are evoked in the Charlotte Ballet’s performance this evening, a ballet which she commissioned in Jimmy’s honor.

“I wanted to do something to memorialize him, to keep his spirit alive,” she said. “A lot of people do benches, or stones or gardens — but that just wasn’t reflective of him at all.”

Terrie said that she ultimately decided upon a ballet tribute because, unlike rocks or benches, a ballet is alive: it can capture the vivacity, joy and beauty that defined Jimmy in life. A ballet is also fitting, she said, because Jimmy was a huge supporter of Chautauqua’s dance program. For years, he was membership chairman of the Chautauqua Dance Circle and a key player in getting the CDC on its feet in its early stages.

Jimmy may have been an unlikely proponent of dance. He was a Kansas-raised, Navy-educated man who worked in construction, fixed cars and loved laboring away on his farm. But after Terrie introduced him to ballet, he quickly fostered a love for refinement, too, although, Terrie fondly admits, it didn’t hurt that he had a schoolboy crush on Traci Gilchrest, the dance company’s principal ballerina back in the day.

“He introduced me to trucks, country music, CB radio and the Redskins,” Terrie said. “I introduced him to ballet, theater, good clothes and pedicures. He came up here and just fell in love with the dance.”

Jimmy was known around Chautauqua for more than his dance advocacy, however. He became a friendly, familiar face to many in the community, stopping to talk to people on the streets and spending several years as a driver for the Institution.

“On our street, people called him the Mayor of Ames, because he was always out, always greeting people and helping them get their luggage in,” Terrie said. “He just liked to do that. He was a real people person.”

Terrie hopes that tonight’s ballet captures Jimmy’s true essence. She stayed largely removed from the choreographic process, saying that she has full faith in Chautauqua’s choreographers and dancers to translate her vision onto the Amphitheater stage. She did have some input, however: she told Jimmy’s story to the choreographers in order to help them understand his spirit, requested an absence of dissonant music, and suggested beautiful costumes for the ballerinas.

“I want it beautiful,” she said. “I want it harmonious, I want it classical, and I want it happy — because he was a happy, happy man. I have complete confidence in [the choreographers], and I know they’ll do something wonderful. Jimmy was larger than life in many ways, and I just want it to reflect the joy he had.”

As for what she imagines Jimmy’s reaction to the ballet would be, Terrie said he would be delighted.

“His energy is around here somewhere. I know it,” she said. “I think that he is absolutely nonplussed that we would do this, and thrilled beyond compare.”

Terrie has only seen snippets of the ballet thus far, so Saturday will be the first time she sees the finished work. She expects the ballet to be poignant and moving, and not just for her. While this is an intensely personal commemoration, it is being played out in a public arena, meaning it has the ability to reach out and touch the entire community and especially those that knew Jimmy.

“I think it will be emotional for all of us,” Terrie said. “One of the great things about Chautauqua is that I’ve been surrounded by friends and support and love. That has just helped enormously. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t those sad times, but it means that there are people that understand.”

Jimmy Hauck’s memory will be brought to life Saturday, in his commemorative ballet called “We Danced Through Life,” which is part of the Charlotte Ballet and Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra program, at 8:15 p.m. Saturday in the Amphitheater.