After years of ruinous co-productions with foreign TV networks, PBS' "Dance in America" series reclaims its sense of mission tonight with an episode titled (significantly) "Made in U.S.A" (8 p.m. on Channel 24; 9 p.m. on Channels 28 and 15; Saturday at 9 p.m. on Channel 50).
Although the three sections of the hourlong program were all choreographed by David Gordon--and all feature Mikhail Baryshnikov--each has a different origin and style. However, director Don Mischer inventively links them through design elements and transitional video animation.
"Valda and Misha" is a perceptive, easygoing new duet that finds Baryshnikov and Valda Setterfield (Gordon's British-born, ballet-trained wife) talking together about their reasons for coming to America while dancing through bright, cartoonish video environments and effects designed by John Sanborn, Mary Perillo and Rocky Pinciotti. A clever piano medley by Lynn Stanford accompanies the dancing, and comments on it, too.
Adapted from "Four Men, Nine Lives," a modern-dance work created for the David Gordon Pick-Up Company, "TV Nine Lives" makes Baryshnikov just another seedy cowpoke rolling off chairs (and other bodies) in fluid movement sequences derived from contact improvisation and gymnastics. (Setterfield makes cameo appearances in male drag.) As bodies pile up, so do memorable images: of barroom fisticuffs, homes on the range, deadpan camaraderie.