A.R.T. Confidential, an inside look at a hidden world: Dennis and the Cha-cha
Dennis is a genius. His medical issues are so acute we worry for his life.
To those who do not know him he seems out of it. That is just his body. He is so together. Acutely aware.
His first sessions with us, on the second floor of Princeton’s Dept. of Art, across the street from St. Paul’s church where real bells tolled Saturdays at noon, his paintings were random. They had no feeling. He wasn’t painting. He was trying out the techniques.
I’ll tell you about his paintings, and his photography, some other time.
Today it is about his music.
It was like pulling teeth to get his aides, his transporters to give him time after his painting session to try out our new music program.
I asked and asked and each time they said they had to get back.
By this point Dennis’s paintings were so powerful. So pure, so stripped down, balanced they hummed with the highest form of artistic life. This was why I wanted to let him try the music program that ran the same time as the painting program. The slot was open and so when for the third time the aides said he had to go I had had it and dropped the name of the CEO of their company. Suggesting it would be a good move on their part. The CEO, who I knew and referred to by her first name, would approve of Dennis being allowed to try the music program. Asking for an hour, they gave in to half an hour and scuffing out of the studio, Dennis and the Tracker settled in close to the workstation with the new gear we had designed.
Both the Tracker and Dennis wore headphones so we could not hear what was being created.
What it was, we were to learn, was pretty close to a real piano. As the aides reappeared to roll Dennis away, he directed three sets of the same three note chords.
The aides in a moment of impatient stasis, I suggested, “You want to hear what Dennis came up with?”
The Tracker moved the computer data to the starting point of the composition, pulled the headphone jacks so the sound would come out of the nice big speaker the system sported and out came these humorously light notes, tripping along until the last three notes, the same three finger chords, rapid, confident, definitive. Cha-cha-cha.
“Did you hear that?” I asked the aides, Dennis and the Tracker laughing.