Whether in the air, on their toes, or dashing to the ground, the dancers of Philadelphia-based company BalletX are technically brilliant and shine with vibrant personalities. The four works the company brought to the ICA Friday night in its sold-out Boston debut, presented by World Music/CRASHarts, highlighted the troupe's versatility as well.
"The Last Glass," choreographed by Matthew Neenan, who founded the company a little over 10 years ago with Christine Cox, provided the evening's best showcase. With its flurry of idiosyncratic solos and duets that ranged from playfully flirtatious to sexy and contentious, the piece demonstrated how well Neenan knows his dancers' abilities. Fueled by the indie folk rock of Beirut, "The Last Glass" had a circus-like flair, ensemble unisons and circle dances frequently punctuated by an adorable pointe-shoe clad Andrea Yorita spinning amid the proceedings like a music-box doll. Chloe Felesina was the work's quiet, vulnerable center. Early on, she sent a handful of wishes up into the air with a gentle breath, and she closed the show with the sweet smile of one who imagines those wishes might just come true.
Felesina and Richard Villaverde gave a powerful performance of Amy Seiwert's striking "It's Not a Cry," set to Jeff Buckley's cover of Leonard Cohen's iconic "Hallelujah." A dark duet both tender and confrontational, it unfurled with muscular, tensile grace, sweeping lifts dissolving into collapses to the floor, as the two took turns supporting one another.
Jorma Elo's "Gran Partita" accumulated depth and visual cohesion as it spun through a mix of musical excerpts, from the twitchy strident agitation of Berg's Lyric Suite to the consoling Bach aria. By the end, Elo's trademark aesthetic — sweeping balletic moves overlaid with quirky gestures and subverted by quixotic shifts of weight and dynamics — started to settle a bit, letting us revel in gorgeous shapes and human connections.
The company nailed Joshua L. Peugh's entertaining if meandering "Slump." With music ranging from klezmer to mambo, this lively, humorous work invoked Balkan folk dance performed by rag dolls, the dancers' vigorous resolve repeatedly "slumping" into rubbery submission.
World Music/CRASHarts at Institute of Contemporary Art
Karen Campbell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.