With each new season, the Washington Ballet grows stronger, surer and more artistically sophisticated. There is still an undeniably youthful look about the company, largely because of its fresh and ardent approach.

The direction of founder Mary Day and resident choreographer Choo San Goh accounts for the group's technical finesse, musicality and signature style. Adept in the works of an assortment of choreographers, nowhere do the 16 dancers shine more luminously than in the ballets of Goh.

Three of these dances -- "Lament," "Synonyms" and "Birds of Paradise" -- make up a large part of the troupe's spring offering at Lisner Auditorium, which began Wednesday evening and runs through Saturday night. "Lament," the most recent, is the most lyrical and introspective, referring to the tragic story of Tristan and Isolde through dramatic images and Wagner's Prelude and Liebestod from his opera "Tristan und Isolde."

"Synonyms," set to the first three movements of Benjamin Britten's first string quartet, is a slightly threatening, suggestive dance of myriad doublings and partnerships. "Birds of Paradise," a piece of great flamboyance and exoticism, unfolds to Alberto Ginastera's "Concierto para Arpa y Orquesta." Two additional works -- Venezuelan choreographer Vincente Nebrada's "A Handel Celebration" and Balanchine's classic "Allegro Brilliante" -- round out the repertoire. THE WASHINGTON BALLET -- Friday at 8 ("Allegro Brilliante"/"Synonyms"/"Birds of Paradise"), Saturday at 2 and 8 ("A Handel Celebration"/"Lament"/"Birds of Paradise"). Lisner Auditorium, 21st and H streets NW. Call 362-4644.