Who is Rupert? The dancing man in the suit is inside all of us

A suit and tie are not standard wear for a rock concert and a bunch of fierce, inspirational dancing isn't either. But they are for Rupert. "Who is Rupert?" you may ask.

"What started off as me dancing in front of a mirror has evolved into so much more," he confirms before a sold-out the 4onthefloor show at First Avenue. Gimme Noise sat down with the performer -- who has danced onstage for artists such as Jeremy Messersmith, the New Standards, and Koo Koo Kangaroo -- and tried to decipher just what that "so much more" means.

Running late from a Wits show at The Fitzgerald Theater, Rupert takes a moment to collect himself before settling down at the Depot. He loves the Fitzgerald for its history and its association with the long-running public radio program

Prairie Home Companion

. His dancing there with the New Standards Christmas shows there brought out something entirely different.

"When I first started dancing with them, I wanted to bring another level to the show and make it more interactive and engaging," he says.  "There was this band I fell in love with, the Olympic Hopefuls, and I just became a part of their show. It wasn't until later after the rise and fall of the Hopefuls that I realized it had less to do with certain bands, and more with the experiences."

The reception around the Cities has been fairly positive, especially from local musicians, including the 4onthefloor, who gave him an open invite to perform with them any time he wants. "I hope that other people go out, whether they love it or hate it, but they have a reaction to it, and it inspires them to do something," he says. "It's like, 'If that guy can look dumb, why can't I do the same thing and have fun?' It's amazing the amount of energy the crowd can give off; it's very infectious."

When something can be monetized, it is difficult to keep it organic. So Rupert considers his performances a way of giving back to the artists he respects. "It's not owned," he says and then checks himself for a second. "It sounds dumb, but it's owned by everyone at the same time. It's like music. In that there's no price on what I do, that gives me permission on some level to break certain boundaries. I understand that I never want to party on someone else's stage, because it's their art. I definitely would like to take the experience and take the audience somewhere else. I don't know what I'm gonna do, the artist doesn't know, and the audience definitely doesn't know. I think my hope is that it continues to evolve."

Rupert is reluctant to talk about the man behind the suit, though. He likes to think of his onstage performances as being "that person inside all of us."

"I've danced my body into the ground, but it does so much for my spirit. What I enjoy is how I see that within the crowd -- even those haters," he says. And what of those haters who would hope to bring down the monstrous dancing force of Rupert? "The haters are the most fun. There's so many guys that are gonna hate on me tonight, without a doubt. That kind of negativity affects everybody -- even me. The difference is, it hurts, but it's also a gut check. It keeps you real. There's so many people who want to drag you down into their miserable rat hole, but they're just mad because they didn't have the balls to do it."

Rupert will perform with Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles for their CD release on Friday, April 20, 2012 at First Ave.
18+, $12 adv, $15 door, 8 pm

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