Wilma Theater’s BalletX opens strong, gracefully


By Merilyn Jackson For The Inquirer

No matter how great the choreography, without the right dancers to breathe life into it, a dance can go flat as a souffle when the oven door is opened too soon.

No worries at the Wilma Theater Wednesday night when BalletX opened its summer run. All 10 of the company’s current lineup whipped themselves to great heights and sustained excellence.

Guest choreographer Matthew Prescott set his airy opening number Journey of the Day (a world premiere) to Yo-Yo Ma and Edgar Meyer’s Appalachian Journey.

The sensual Tara Keating has been with the company since it began five years ago, but missed the company’s spring run due to injury. It was good to see her back doing little happy dances en pointe and being silly with Laura Feig and Jennifer Goodman in a girly gossipfest. Kevin Yee-Chan and Colby Damon traded twirls and cheery jumps to an Irish-inflected section of the music, ending in a contact-improv duet. The exuberant bluegrass-redux dance closed with all seven dancers crossing arms over shoulders, their backs to the audience and spinning off like tops.

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About Merilyn Jackson

Merilyn is a guest contributor to the Dance Journal. She writes regularly on dance for The Philadelphia Inquirer since 1996 and writes on dance, theater, food, travel and Eastern European and Latin American fiction for many publications. More than 800 of her articles have appeared in publications as diverse as The New York Times, The Warsaw Voice, The Arizona Republic, The Phoenix New Times, MIT’s Technology Review, and Arizona Highways, Dance, Pointe and Dance Teacher magazines, Broad Street Review and www.exploredance.com.

She was awarded an NEA Critics Fellowship in 2005 and a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship in 1999 for her novel-in-progress, O Solitary Host. A chapter of that novel, “A Sow of Violence,” appeared in the Massachusetts Review in the Fall 2004 “Food Matters” issue. In 2012 she attended poetry workshops at Colgate University and Sarah Lawrence College, working with poets Peter Balakian and Tom Lux, respectively. Several of her poems appear in Exquisite Corpse, The Rusty Nail and Broad Street Review. She likes to say that dance was her first love, but when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although, she also writes poetry. Much of her writing can be read on her personal blog Prime Glib.

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