robinWhat We Believe: Robin Gustafson

I believe in country, dance, song, and society.

Country: I believe that the “country” in our name refers to something that originates in the country (any country), rather than in the town or the city. A country style is a style without adornment; it is a simple style and is affordable to anyone who lives nearby. “Country” style is usually not authored, but grows organically from deep roots and changes over time. “Country” also refers to events that show up locally, in your very own neighborhood. A country event is a local, non-professional informally participatory event, accessible to anyone who lives nearby.

Dance: I believe that dance is a beautiful form of self-expression, a traditional method of worshiping the gods and of healing a community. But I also believe that it’s really good for us. Recent research in my field, of embodied cognition, has shown that dance is particularly good for your nervous system and your mental health, even beyond the normal (and phenomenal) benefits of aerobic exercise. Dance focuses the entire nervous system on a harmonious set of interactions, interactions that are in tune with the music and with the people with which you are dancing. This really couldn’t be better for all aspects of the nervous system.

Song: I know that music is good for us, but I believe that participatory singing is particularly good for us. It makes us feel connected and, quite literally, in tune with our community.. Songs are a form of music that are typically accessible to anyone, without special equipment, and can be passed along from one singer to another. Traditional, country-based, songs are a form of music that allows for participation by almost anyone in a community. At a time when many people think that music is something to which you listen, alone, using your own personal itunes library or Pandora or “rdio” radio station, this tradition of singing simple songs in a group could not be more important to carry forward.

Society: I believe in society, but not in the sense of “high society” or “low society”. Society in the sense of company and association with others, and this, too, is demonstrably good for us. We are built for company, and company not only makes us feel better, company is also how we best learn, remember and accomplish big things. We spend a lot of each day feeling as though we have to do big things on our own and remember big things on our own, but the truth is we just have to do the small steps put in front of us and remember that we are part of a larger whole consisting of many who are also taking small steps toward similar goals. We do not have to do it all on our own. We have society.

I believe in country, dance, song and society, and I hope you do too.