In a single performance at Lisner Auditorium Saturday night, the Baltimore-based Maryland Ballet seemed still to be a company in faltering quest of identity.

A sparse audience and a program of ballets ludicrously out of touch with contemporary concerns and taste gave the evening a sadly self-defeating atmosphere.

The company might well be trying to serve as a launching pad for gifted young choereographers, particularly Americans. Instead, the trouple's director, Englishman Petrus Bosman, relied on older British colleagues for a program of prevailingly flat, mediocre quality.

Roberts North's "Meeting and Parting," set to weak, simulated 19th-century music by Howard Blake, is a "piano ballet," an altogether pallid, earthbound echo of Jerome Robbins' "Dances at a Gathering." Gray Veredon's new "Schubert Fantasy" overlays stilted, monotonous step patterns onto music that has nothing in common with the choreography other than meter. Ben Stevenson's "There Preludes" is a reasonably comely exercise in Bolshoi-style kitsch, but it seemed wasted on a dancer-Linda Kintz-whose forte is athleticism. Jack Carter's elaborately costumed "Three Dances to Japanese Music" is a failed, vulgar attempt to fuse cultures. The winsome appeal of Martha Purl and Mark Mejia in the North piece was the program's one unalloyed pleasure.