Critic’s Notebook: When the Body Is a Canvas, Accented With Paint or Peanuts

The methodical movements of the dancers and Ms. Sweeney’s allure as a storyteller imbued the work, which ended its run at the Performance Project at University Settlement on Sunday, with a sense of suspense. Jodi Bender, Laurie Berg, Tara O’Con and Lindsay Reuter navigated the stage like interlocking pieces of a puzzle, while Ms. Sweeney served as a kind of master of ceremonies.

At first, the dancers took turns sitting and staring; outwardly they were placid, but inwardly, as their flickering eyes hint, their bodies were on high alert. In waves, they mimicked one another’s movements.

“Turn, lean, circle, circle, circle,” Ms. Sweeney said, before pausing briefly to snap her fingers. “Snap. This will signal that later in the dance a mountain lion will appear.”

Inspired by social and tap dances, the cast traversed the stage in rhythmic sequences of hops, glides and claps that revealed the effectiveness of muscle memory, or not: In one moment, the amusingly hapless Ms. O’Con tried to keep up with the claps and snaps of the others but was always a beat or two behind.

If the first half, “Arrows,” simmered slowly, the dreamlike “Errors,” which began after a brief blackout, boiled over with Ms. Sweeney’s fantastical tale about that mountain lion. Figuring out how to parse fiction and reality is a part of life nowadays, and Ms. Sweeney, with her punning title and way of questioning perception through movement, showed how delicate the line between them is.

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