REPERTORY dance companies are always on the lookout for new and innovative work. Judging from a preview glimpse of "Tsunami," Maryland Dance Theater has struck paydirt.

This mesmerizing dance by West Coast choreographer Becci Parsons was first presented in video form at the Japan World Expo; Parsons later won the American College Dance Festival Choreographer Award when the piece was realized on stage.

"Tsunami," which will be presented here this weekend, deals in the curative and destructive powers of water. As a tape delivers words, whispers and the sound of waves, three men and two women in faintly Eastern garb enact a series of slow, sensuous rituals.

They carry bowls filled with water across the stage, kneel, cleanse their hands, send their fingers around the bowl rims to create eerie, wind-like sounds. Throughout the three- part suite, the water grows ever more significant, and the dancers' movements call to mind all manner of aquatic activity.

Yet another company premiere, associate director Anne Warren's "Dance for Strength," uses curving, luscious movement to very different effect. Set to a string quartet by Johann Whanhal, a contemporary of Mozart, the dance has its six performers meeting and darting like insects, children, leaves sailing through the sky.

Rounding out the program will be revivals of Murray Louis' charming Bach Suite, and MDT artistic director Larry Warren's Postcards, inspired by the early paintings of Picasso.