Johann Wolfgang Goethe waged a lifelong war against Isaac Newton's concept of light. The German poet claimed that by forcing light through pinholes and prisms, the English scientist obtained "pathological" results in his experiments. Goethe wanted rules and norms to be based on what is healthy.

Kei Takei, like Newton, can be accused of torturing light. Almost all of her highly visual dances are called "Light," and the images they convey to the viewer are far from healthy.

Part XI of "Light," given its area premiere by University of Maryland dancers on the College Park campus yesterday afternoon, is about rock pickers. They're not the jolly grape pickers of "Giselle" or Brecht's wily rag pickers, but a plodding, dull-witted tribe with frozen features. Habit and ritual rule their lives. They stomp into view, gather carefully arranged rocks, form themselves into choruses that alternate motions and noises, and seem on the verge of hostility. Actual clashes are avoided by obeying the rules of a pre-ordained choreography. Yes, they dance divertissements -- but with weighted bodies and the total exclusion of spontaneity. After half an hour they depart, leaving behind a few of their rocks -- presumably for still another part of "Light."

Goethe's dying words were, "More light!" Had his sight failed already or was he giving mankind a piece of final advice? We can excuse his unusual lack of clarity at the end. Takei has been choreographing more and more parts of 'Light" for over a decade. Can one forgive her refusal to reveal whether her unenlightened rock pickers are a warning, or whether the level she approves is precisely that dim?