Guys and Doll

"Dance in America" 's latest offering, Born to Be Wild (February 3, 10 p.m., Thirteen/ WNET), features four of American Ballet Theatre's galaxy of fabulous male stars: Jose Manuel Carreño, Angel Corella, Vladimir Malakhov, and Ethan Stiefel. The hour-long show has clearly been designed for popular consumption, urging the viewer to understand these phenomenal athlete-artists as regular guys. Operating like an old-fashioned documentary, it takes us to the scenes of their childhoods in Cuba, Spain, Russia, and the American Midwest, collecting local color along with sound bites from close-knit families and early teachers. Alternating with the "roots" material are glimpses into the ABT studios, where crossover choreographer Mark Morris creates a dance for these princes and they're all good buddies. The show ends with a performance of his finished Non Troppo; as shot for TV, it doesn't look like much. What looks terrific is the archival stuff—quick clips of the men soaring, sailing, and spinning at the height of their powers, the charisma that was milked in their talking-head shots transformed into the quality we call soul.

Interim, an extended duet choreographed and performed by Allyson Green and Ben Wright (Danspace Project, January), depicts the unquenchable yearnings and bleak impasses of one-to-one human relationships. The subject matter seems typically contemporary. Who among us has enjoyed serene, mutually satisfactory, let alone ecstatic long-term coupledom? Actually, the dance is rooted in the way- back-then '20s, when pastel sentiments flourished in American culture. Musical references in Alan Stones's "sonic landscape" made this clear, as did an exhibition of poetry and pictures, laid on beds of sweetly pretty vintage linen, on the fringe of the performing space. Despite Sarah Gilmartin's ravishing light design, evocative in the manner of late J.M.W. Turner watercolors, the choreography proved too fragile and attenuated to storm the heart.

 
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