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    Project RUIN
    Photo by Darren Hoffman

    Beginning Again

    Project RUIN takes over CPR


    Ah, apocalypse. What better inspiration than the end of the world and the ragged, limitless possibilities of what comes after? Carlye Eckert and Lucie Baker create a cozy, possibly subterranean world full of ritual and games, in Project Ruin. Pioneer spirit thrives in the darkness of this new future. The evening is split, in a sense, between work and play, with Eckert's serious first half preceding Baker's usually lighter second half.

    Choreography by: Lucie Baker and Carlye Eckert.
    Dancers: Lucie Baker, Aaron Carr, Carlye Eckert, Allysen Hooks, Timothy Ward.
    Music by: Michael Caterisano.
    Set design by: Chimmy Gunn.
    Costumes by: Marion Talan.
    Lighting design by: Miriam Nilofa Crowe.
    Masks: Alyssa Eckert.
    CPR-Center for Performance Research
    October 17-20, 2012

    Darkness opens slowly to a turning ring of dancers, scrumming or huddling. Straitjacket/matching breeches uniforms give the quintet of Baker, Eckert, Aaron Carr, Allysen Hooks and Tim Ward an inmates-making-the-rules quality, with none of the institutional dysfunction and all of the we're-in-this-together vibe. Bright-painted, occasionally feathered masks give each a severe and intense demeanor and seem to impart or channel power to the wearers. Fabric draping every surface and meeting at a "smokehole" in the center of the ceiling gives an Indian sweatlodge ambience. And music by Michael Caterisano casts just the right spell over the proceedings from start to finish.

    Masks, and these in particular, lend both anonymity and superhumanity to performers onstage. Immediately, we begin to assign specific qualities to each mask and its wearer, trying to divine patterns and traits. It is an odd but powerful effect, and it really enhances the mystery of the opening half. All five would be compelling without masks, which just intrigues more.

    Project RUIN  
    Photo by Darren Hoffman  
    There does seem to be a gravitational pull to the center, making any excursions away from center feel subversive or daring, especially when dancers break the ring of inward-facing audience chairs and linger or travel against the walls, behind our backs. Much of this section is group dancing, but each also takes a solo spin, and something about their presence and bearing gives Aaron Carr and Carlye Eckert a bit more status, which her maskfeathers and his spiky hair(feathers) also seem to signify.

    Project RUIN
    Photo by Darren Hoffman

    After all the drama and powers-summoning of the first half, it is surprising and relieving to see all five lose their masks and change into bright red "play" clothes that are more fun and less restricting. And play they do, with lighthearted rounds of Red Rover and other kiddie hijinx. This group has not lost its links to its inner child despite or even because things have become dark and desperate.

      Project RUIN
      Photo by Darren Hoffman
    An odd and somewhat clumsy reinventing-the-wheel segment has women fitting Tim Ward with new construction-paper clothes, taping the pieces together. It is humorous and a little sad, as pieces begin to loosen and fly off once he starts moving in his new suit.

    His unraveling clothes become a metaphor for the chaos and ruin that these five live with daily, and as the other four end up in a slumping/sleeping pile of bodies and crumpled paper, Lucie Baker does a final, beseeching solo in fading light before joining the rest on the ground.

    OCTOBER 27, 2012

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