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Timing a bit off, but BalletX still blossoms for spring

BalletX looked like a new company when its Spring Series opened Thursday night at the Wilma Theater. In many ways it was.

BalletX looked like a new company when its Spring Series opened Thursday night at the Wilma Theater. In many ways it was.

Founded in 2005 by Matthew Neenan and Christine Cox, the contemporary ballet company has performed regularly ever since, but not frequently enough to sustain a dedicated roster of dancers. Instead, it relies mostly on freelancers and guest artists, with just a few returning each season.

I hadn't seen the troupe recently, so it was a pleasant surprise to find so many dynamic, gutsy, high-energy dancers on stage. The program confirmed impressive credits, including Alvin Ailey, Complexions, Joffrey, and Morphoses.

The performances were universally strong, though the timing was off almost all night, probably because of casting changes to accommodate an injured dancer.

This was most noticeable in Edwaard Liang's Largo, which opened the evening and was the program's strongest piece. The beautiful, geometric ballet features three couples and is set to Bach's Goldberg Variations. But it was difficult to focus on its beauty, as one couple was always slightly behind the music.

Timing issues, as well as an overeager fog machine, also disturbed Delicate Balance, a new work by Jodie Gates that BalletX premiered April 13 at the Laguna Dance Festival in California. While it is choreographically formulaic, with group sections and duets where expected, it featured fantastic performances from Allison Walsh, William Cannon, Colby Damon, and Chloe Felesina.

The evening closed with Neenan's 2010 work The Last Glass. Set to music by the indie rock band Beirut, it's an almost circus-like ode to people-watching whose energy and crazy mix of characters make an amusing celebration of a familiar scene.

In the past I have noted that BalletX performances seem on the short side and that an extra piece would help fill out the evening. This time the intermissions were long and featured bonus acts: a storyteller and a singer in drag. The singer was fun, but the storyteller shared far too much information. And ultimately both broke the mood of the evening.

BalletX is expanding its horizons, performing in June in the Gotham Dance Festival at New York's beautiful Joyce Theater, then at the prestigious Vail International Dance Festival in Colorado, and back to New York for Central Park's Summerstage. All to the good, but until the company establishes a steadier roster of dancers, it can only develop so far.

BalletX Spring Series

8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, at the Wilma Theater, 265 S. Broad St. Tickets: $22-$35. 215-546-7824 or