What fledgling choreographers need most is to stage their work, not just in a studio but in public. Chances to do so, however, are very hard to come by. For several years now, Washington's Metropolitan Dance Association has been performing yeoman service to the dance community by providing just such opportunities through its Independent Choreographers series. The latest installment, displaying seven works chosen by audition from entries by 25 choreographers, took place this past weekend at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center Theater in Arlington. Though no worlds were set afire, the program gave evidence of much craft, occasional ingenuity, and here and there, in small doses, originality too.

By far the most novel offering was Rox Glatter's "Living Room," set to spaced-out music by J. M. Jarre. The six dancers looked like refugees from an all-female punk-rock outfit -- a tall leader (Sara White) with a great shock of frizzed red hair, the others with slicked back coifs, all with pasty faces, raccoon eyes and purpled, vampire lips. Their routine, which included perverse poses, grotesquely skewed heads and limbs, and open-mouthed glarings, suggested Martian ghouls on the prowl. Though the whole thing had a (deliberately) unsavory feeling about it, both movement and imagery were indisputably "different" and provocative.

At the opposite end of the scale was "Discussions on Making All Things Equal," jointly choreographed by Diane DeFries and Cissy Whipp, a gentle study in swing and shape, more distinguished by its harmonious composition than by any departure from convention.

The incisive precision of Lonna Wilkinson's performance in her solo, "Left Is Not Right," pepered with visuals puns and Cunningham-like non sequiturs, gave the piece strength beyond its substance.

The rest were less successful. Sharon Wyrrick's "Hands/Birds" had a nice, cermonious tranquility, but went on too blandly for too long, and Peggy Myers' expertly performed trio, "Images Unseen," tried vainly to squeeze drama from contractions and other overworked Graham cliches. Neither Cathy Clark's flippant apache number, "Don't Get Pushy," nor Lin Shook's ill-focused solo, "Glimpses of the Hill," got further than the sketchpad level.