The Washington dance community honored one of its earliest, most prolific, influential and respected members this past Saturday. Friends, admirers and collegues joined in an all day tribute to Erika Thimey, highlighted by afternoon and evening performances of the Washington Dance Theatre, the chamber troupe she has presided over since 1943.

The occasion was the closing by the 69-year-old Thimey of the Georgetown studio she operated for over three decades, and her impending relocation to Smighsburg, Md.

A disciple of the noted European modern dance pioneer Mary Wigman, Thimey first came to this country in 1932.

In addition to founding her own studio and company here, she also directed a dance group at Howard University for more than a decade. Besides her activities in sacred dance, Thimey has also cultivated a special interest in dance for children.

Saturday's performances illustrated both major areas of Thimey's achievement. The matinee at the Trapier Theater was a children's program which demonstrated her remarkable capacity for entering the wonder world of the very young. The tone of these little pieces may be overly saccharine for some tastes, but there's no denying their power to expand imaginative horizons.

Most impressive of all was the dinity, warmth and simply achieved eloquence of Thimey's contributions to the evening's Vesper service at St. John's Episcopal Church in Georgetown. Using such elemental forms as circles, arches and braidings with adirable skill and clarity.this choreography to music by Bach, Britten, Ariel Ramirez and other composers translated the universals of human idealism into the affecting grammar of dance movement.