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BEST BETS: Thursday 1/25

8pm Dance

January 24, 2002

9pm Pop Music

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One of Colombia's musical treasures, Joe Arroyo, celebrates a dazzling variety of styles from his native country and beyond. He's bringing his distinctive salsa to L.A. for the first time in almost a decade.

Joe Arroyo y Su Orquesta, with Johnny Polanco y Su Conjunto Amistad, Grand Avenue, 1024 S. Grand Ave., downtown L.A., 9:30 p.m. $20 and $30. (213) 747-0999. Also Friday at JC Fandango, 1086 N. State College Blvd., Anaheim, 8 p.m. $25. (714) 758-1057.

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8pm Comedy

Comedy Project 2002, two months of performances by leading humorists, stand-ups and writers, many of whom are regulars in the popular L.A. comedy show "Un-Cabaret," kicks off this week at the Skirball Cultural Center. Tonight at 8, "Say the Word" features readings by "Late Night With David Letterman" collaborator Merrill Markoe and "Simpsons" writer George Meyer. "Free Your Mind," Saturday at 8 p.m., is a panel discussion on the "land of the free" with "Sex and the City" executive producer Michael Patrick King, writer-performer Moon Unit Zappa and others. "Un-Cabaret" creators Beth Lapides and Greg Miller will hold a performance workshop Feb. 2.

Comedy 2002, Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., L.A., 8 p.m. $12 general, $10 Skirball members, $6 students. Call (323) 655-8587.

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7pm Poetry

Poet Anthony Hecht has earned a spot of honor not only among his American contemporaries, but in the history of the form. He has collected the Bollingen Prize, Ruth Lilly Prize and the Librex-Guggenheim Eugenio Montale Award, among other honors, and the New York Times Book Review stated, "He may be the most accomplished master of technique since Auden." Hecht reads from his most recent volume, "The Darkness and the Light," published last year, as part of the contemporary poetry reading series at the UCLA Hammer Museum.

Anthony Hecht, UCLA Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., L.A., 7 p.m. Free. (310) 443-7020.

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8pm Dance

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Mark Morris Dance Group returns to Irvine with a mixed repertory created over the last 19 years. Now 47, Morris started out as the outrageous maverick of modern dance but in recent years has smoothly cross-faded into the role of reigning master of contemporary music visualization. That's a conservative stance, perhaps, but one that's never out of style. With live music under the direction of Ethan Iverson, his program each night includes "Bijoux" (Erik Satie), "Peccadilloes" (Satie), "V" (Robert Schumann), "Dancing Honeymoon" (newly arranged pop songs of the 1920s and '30s) and "The Office" (Antonin Dvorak).

Mark Morris Dance Group, Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine, 8 p.m. Also Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m. $35 to $40. (949) 854-4646.

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