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To-Do This Weekend: See Mark Morris

My non-dance-aficionado friends have a saying: If you're going to take me to a ballet, make it one of the best. They have a point: If you want to dive deeper into classical music, you start with Mozart or Beethoven. Thing is, most of the time, the creators of "the best" are already dead and their works have become lofty, durable standards—not fresh, of-the-moment creations. That's why modern choreographer Mark Morris matters. Very much alive and kicking at 54, Morris has been creating compelling, instant classics since his early twenties. In the two West Coast premieres he brings to Zellerbach Hall starting tonight—Visitation and Empire Garden—expect to see modern dance as it was meant to be: earthy, emotional, and perfectly expressive of its accompanying live music (in this case, Beethoven and Charles Ives, respectively). For witnessing the pure electricity of movement, there's no one quite like Morris.