Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Inspiration: Rush.

For me, the best inspiration comes from sources seemingly unrelated to dance....

I'm sitting at home, watching one of my favorite live music DVDs, Rush in Rio, (that would be Rush the band, not Rush Limbaugh) and reading writings by the band's drummer, Neil Peart, and thinking about how much this band has inspired me as an artist, as a dancer, and as a human being.

Yeah, yeah. I know what you're thinking. Rush? You mean, like "Red Barchetta" and "Tom Sawyer"? You're probably thinking it's a little dorky. Well, welcome to the world of the BDP: full of unabashed Geekiness and Dorkitude.

Often described as the "thinking man's arena rock band", they have managed to gain a worldwide following of millions of fans by doing things their way. Never following the musical trends, never giving in to pop culture or record label pressures, always making genuine and real music, they have become rock legends. They never compromised their art for the sake of making it marketable. In fact, in staying true to themselves, they found a market for their music. And what's more remarkable to me is that there are millions of people around the world who adore this band of three guys from Canada, who rarely led tabloid-worthy lives, who make music because they love making music. They also constantly strive to improve their skills, always becoming more accomplished musicians, songwriters, and artists.

Another thing I admire about them is that they always approach their art with a sense of humor. They are young at heart. They've been playing music together for 30 years, and when they're on stage it's like they're teenagers again. It's clear that music, and sharing it with so many devoted fans, brings them infinite joy and happiness.

Their music is intellectual without being pompous, technical without being inaccessible, emotional without being sappy. To me it is beautiful, genuine, and heartening.

I want to be a dancer like that.

These three guys are role models for me, and their music reminds me of the power of the individual, to believe in myself and my abilities, and to continue to strive to improve upon that which I have learned, and to never compromise my personal principles to gain a greater following.

I leave you with some writing and lyrics by Peart that I think can apply to dance, and of course, to life in general. Peart is an artist and a thinker - a combination I aspire to become myself. My notes and quote sources are square brackets. I hope that some of this inspires you in some way as well.
While searching for a capsule definition of "excellence," which is described by Robert Pirsig [author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - I highly recommend!] as "quality" and by Aristotle as "arete," I tentatively defined it as "doing something well enough that other people who do it admire your work," I think that nails it reasonably well - for a drummer, a bricklayer, or just a life well-lived. And certainly my own quest for excellence continues. While fully aware of all my faults, in music and in life, the eternal consolation is: "Hey, at least I'm getting BETTER!" I happily remain a "work in progress." [From Modern Drummer, October 1992]

There is a certain trait evident in human nature which some people seem to possess in greater degrees. It derives from a state of insecurity and low self-esteem and shows itself in the actions of those who wish to make themselves look good by making others look bad. You see it everywhere once you start to look for it. People who can't gain respect for their own merits feel obliged to try and tear down those who do. We see it in the failures who try to prove their aloofness by criticizing the actions of those who actually do something... [From The Daily Texan, 1981]

Spirits fly on dangerous missions
Imaginations on fire
Focused high on soaring ambitions
Consumed in a single desire

In the grip of a nameless possession-
A slave to the drive of obsession-
A spirit with a vision
Is a dream with a mission...
[From "Mission" on Hold Your Fire, 1987]

Keep on looking forward
No use in looking 'round
Hold your head above the crowd
And they won't bring you down
[From "Anthem" on Fly By Night, 1975]

I have spent my working life believing fervently in that distinction [of quality music versus music made only to sell albums], fighting to preserve it in my own work, and being offended by music calculated only to the lowest common denominator of commercial appeal — I would like to believe it makes a difference. [From a review of Daniel Levitin's This is Your Brain on Music, Bubba's Book Club, 2008]

I'm not giving in
To security under pressure
I'm not missing out
On the promise of adventure
I'm not giving up
On implausible dreams-
Experience to extremes-
Experience to extremes
[From "The Enemy Within, Part I of Fear" on Grace Under Pressure, 1984]

Art as expression
Not as market campaigns
Will still capture our imaginations
Given the same
State of integrity
It will surely help us along...

The most endangered species
The honest man
Will still survive annihilation
Forming a world-
State of integrity
Sensitive, open and strong
[From "Natural Science" on Permanent Waves, 1980]

What you own is your own kingdom
What you do is your own glory
What you love is your own power
What you live is your own story
In your head is the answer
Let it guide you along
Let your heart be the anchor
And the beat of your own song
[From "Something for Nothing" on 2112, 1976]

More excitement, less fear.
[From Roadshow, 2006]


Amber said...

Neil Peart is amazing. I found out more about him through my fiance, who is a drummer. Watching him play (and the set of drums he has, whoa) is quite impressive.

Anonymous said...

A,you did it again. Thank you.