THERE ARE certain dance companies so electric they make you want to jump up and join in. Once such is the Philadelphia Dance Company, better known as Philadenco.
Over the past few years, this predominantly black company, directed by Joan Myers Brown, has become one of Philadelphia's cultural treasures, and a nationally recognized force. Like the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Bucket Dance Company and The Dance Theater of Harlem, Philadenco sends a double message: that black dancers and choreographers should have ample opportunity to express themselves, and that their statements are often distinct and powerful.
In celebration of Black History Month, Philadenco will make its Washington premiere this weekend at the Takoma Theater. The program, a smorgasbord of movement styles and musical scores (Ellington, the Supremes, Tchaikovsky, Bach, Scott Joplin, Aretha Franklin), showcases the company's considerable technical skill and contagious spirit. Choreographer Louis Johnson, best known for his work on Broadway and on the movie version of "The Wiz," is represented by "The Tale of Treemonisha," based on the Scott Joplin opera; and his signature piece "Forces of Rhythm," a work that shows how the African influence has seeped into all forms of dance.
Of special, and timely, interest is "Conversations," resident choreographer Gene Hill Sagan's tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., in which King's voice, coupled with the music of Bach, provides the stirring accompaniment.
PHILADENCO -- This Friday and Saturday at 8 at Takoma Theater, 6833 Fourth Street NW (at Butternut street). Tickets $10, students $8. Call 291-8060.