Let's be blunt about it -- if you want to be reassured that creative discovery of a high order is still happening in modern dance, go see the Zero Moving Company, the Philadelphiabased troupe which made its local debut at the Washington Project for the Arts last night, and repeats its spellbinding program there this afternoon and evening.

Zero's mode of creating and performing, which involves collaborative composition, a sense of ritual observance and mystery, the use of iterative forms and singing and chanting by the dancers is not without antecedents or links to other contemporary work. Still, the outcome is very much their own.

The Zero dancers relate to one another with an almost palpably strong feeling of empathic connection -- their rapport is like a force field, and it sets up an instant aura of selfcreated myth. Last night's program was also little afflicted with the diffusion and rambling that so often besets collectively created pieces.

"Riverways," the more formal of the two extended works, evokes Doris Humphrey's "Water Study" in its nature imagery, in this case an ebb and flow expressed in such ways as loping, trotting, stalking, strutting and other varieties of tread.

"Night Tales," which includes wonderfully incantatory harmonium music by Paul Epstein and an ingeniously varied deployment of wooden poles, is like a series of fables in a medieval tapestry come to hallucinatory life. Space forbids details, but Zero needs more to be experienced than explained.