After two of his duets taped in the early '80s are shown on "Alive From Off Center" tonight (at 10 on Channels 28 and 50; at 11 on Channel 24), post-modern dance-maker David Gordon introduces his "Panel," a more recent, non-dance creation that offers playful commentary on middlebrow arts journalism.
This mock-discussion, in which Gordon plays all 10 panelists, manages to poke fun at the standard questions asked about his work and yet to answer them astutely, suggesting in the process that he considers this self-congratulatory, dilettantish PBS series something of a child's garden of media.
Though the dances on the program don't reflect Gordon's current preoccupations, they each display his characteristic pertinence. In "Dorothy and Eileen," the action of bearing weight objectifies the bond between parent and child, as Margaret Hoeffel and Valda Setterfield (Gordon's wife) shake, push and hold one another while simultaneously sharing spoken reminiscences about their mothers.
"Close-Up" imaginatively isolates the body-sculpture of another love relationship as one partner in this Gordon-Setterfield pas de deux continually freezes in mid-embrace while the other deftly moves through a tangle of limbs to a new position, a new point of contact.
Both pieces generate powerful emotional resonances through cool, utilitarian movement. Gordon and Edward Steinberg directed the television adaptations of these stage dances, supplementing and enriching the performance material without ever diluting it.
At 10:30 tonight, KCET Channel 28 is showing another "Alive From Off Center" episode, one that was telecast elsewhere on Aug. 4. Here the emphasis is on video-dance fusions, a.k.a. teledance.
Made by Regine Chapinot (choreography) and Marc Caro (direction), the ironic French extravaganza "Rude Raid" may look like warmed-over Alwin Nikolais superimposed on tepid narrative situations from the "Star Wars" trilogy, but the video effects--people sliced like paper or crammed onto a tiny cube--are highly diverting.
More challenging in dance terms, "Visual Shuffle" expresses choreographer Charles Moulton's unique sense of fanciful structuralism in formal movement etudes conditioned and embellished by the clever work of video artists John Sanborn and Mary Perillo.
In "Fractured Variations," Moulton and friends even get beyond pictorialism into kinetic experimentation--including reprocessing footfalls, through editing, into sustained, jackhammer floor-assaults.
The program isn't exactly "dance unlike anything you've seen before," as host Susan Stamberg gushes, but it provides a useful compendium of new technology and promising creative approaches.