Three accessible and endearing Paul Taylor pieces to pop music are combined in a bold PBS "Dance in America" adaptation tonight, an attempt to give separate one-act creations the resonance of a full-evening work.
Titled "The Wrecker's Ball," the hourlong telecast finds Taylor cast as a derelict huddled against an old building scheduled for demolition. As he turns on a cheap radio, we see the building in earlier decades--first serving as a wartime dance hall (the setting for "Company B"), then as a neighborhood movie theater ("Funny Papers") and finally as a '60s crash pad ("A Field of Grass"). Some sections of the original stage choreographies have been reworked for these environments, others trimmed.
Even when the movement remains untouched, radical shifts in values occur. On stage, "Company B" featured a moving frieze of dancers in silhouette: a reminder of World War II and other realities conditioning the actions of the soloists and often deliberately undercutting the Andrews Sisters records used as accompaniment.
Director Matthew Diamond sporadically tries to provide an equivalent for the frieze in his TV version, with muddled results. It's doubtful, for instance, that many viewers will guess that the man in the poignant "Another You" duet is dead--just a memory.