The late quartets Oct 11, 2013

by Omar Willey

Invocation arrests. Prayer states. Chant repeats. All are spiritual. The spirit is the theme. The body is the means.

There are the instruments. Two violins: one redhead, decorative yet brittle--the Stradivarius; one brunette, leaner more aggressive--the Guarneri. The viola: taller, more lush, as refined as a Maggini. The cello: the only masculine voice in the fray, supportive but never virtuoso; not classical like an Amati, but modern yet folksy--more of a David Burgess.

There is form. Allegro. Adagio. Scherzo. Allegro.

I. Allegro - Bodies stripped of comfort. Nakedness is an empty page, a precondition of the individual before becoming a member of a group. No judgment of essence, only skill. It's a cheer. It's a process of liberation, invoking gender, invoking social connections.

II. Adagio - 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration. Rarefied classical vocabulary taken from folk form. Diaphonic chant in four sections--a diminution canon, and a passacaglia--or is it a chaconne? The tedium of training. Five basic positions. Plié. Grand plié. Chained by chaines. Density within what seems formless. Slow at first, as all learners are, but growing more skillful in execution. Only buy pointe shoes if your ballet instructor has asked you to.

III. Scherzo - Allegro 2: Electric Boogaloo. Classical b-boys. Pops unlocked. Softly, softly. Want to, when to, when two, want two. Scherzo is joke. And the joke's on you. Flaming telepaths. And the joke's--

IV. Allegro - Land of the unfreestylistics. Rings on fingers, bells on toes. Polish Polish refinement, and a bell. Every dance needs more cowbell. Then, slowly, unity from difference. Milk, bread, coffee, salt, sugar, potatoes, eggs. Staples, as in Mavis. Recapitulation and summula.

There are themes. Some of them French. Some of them American. Most of them universally particular. Wit is important, even when not humorous. Like Brown & Haley bars, it only seems a contradiction until you taste it.

Above all, there are questions. I have no answers and do not want any.