The Mark Morris Dance Group will perform in the Power Center this Friday and Saturday night, but, honestly, does anyone care? By most definitions, dance is a luxury. It’s an art that’s entertaining but seemingly aimless. At a time when America is in such turmoil, dance might seem almost irrelevant, and you could certainly argue that it is.

But dance is also one of the most fundamentally collaborative arts. The focus is on movement and fluency in a lingua franca composed entirely of nonverbal communication. At a time like this — race-charged, gender-charged, with a whole nation in fear of insolvency — collaboration and understanding are more important than ever.

The Mark Morris Dance Group, led by artistic director Mark Morris, might serve as a model. The company, formed in 1980, seems to have done nothing but collect accolades. Once regarded as an “American upstart,” Morris rapidly moved to the forefront of modern dance, earning a Guggenheim Fellowship and no less than eight honorary doctorates, including one from Julliard.

The Mark Morris Dance Group is world-renowned for seamless integration with the music that drives its performances. The company works only with live music for every dance. In the past, they’ve performed with orchestras, opera companies, and even cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Morris seems to find the calm center of the music and charge it into motion: even still photos of his dancers look electric. The Los Angeles Times called him “intensely musical, deceptively cerebral, (and) insinuatingly sexual.”

Morris, once pronounced “our Mozart of modern dance” by the Washington Post, will be presenting no Mozart this weekend. The program will include artists ranging from Brahms to Lou Harrison. Impressively, the two performances are composed from entirely different works, with one (fortunate) exception, a dance called “Grand Duo.” It is one of his most famous. Other works include “Love Song Waltzes,” set to Brahms, and “Candleflowerdance,” to Stravinsky’s “Serenade in A.”

Dance faces a serious challenge in the ambition-fueled American culture of the 21st century. What Mark Morris and others like him must do is not remain relevant, but help the public (college students included) to understand that dance has always been and continues to be relevant. The more the world seems to crumble around our ears, the more the grace and unity of dance matters — important not in spite of the tumult, but critical precisely because of it.

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