Click photo to enlarge
Ballet dancers perform in "VISTA" choreographed by Oakland Ballet Company artistic director Graham Lustig as part of the OBC's spring program Forwards! at Laney College, in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, May 19, 2011. (Ray Chavez/Staff)

The Oakland Ballet Company has postponed the launch of its spring season, citing a budget deficit.

The season was to open May 18 with the Ballets Russes inspired "Diaghilev Imagery" at the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts in Oakland.

The troupe's board of directors decided to suspend the program because 2011 "Nutcracker" sales and fundraising efforts had fallen short of expectations, leaving them with a $90,000 deficit.

Board members plan to reschedule the performances as soon as possible. But the company will hold its annual benefit gala May 5 at the Kaiser Center Auditorium and move ahead with new Saturday ballet classes beginning Jan. 28, as well as a summer Oakland Ballet boot camp at Mills College.

Board President Roz Perazzo said the company's 2011 budget was $600,000. Perazzo said the shortfall -- 15 percent of the budget -- is not critical right now but the board chose to be "fiscally conservative in this economy."