THERE IS NO choreographer or performer quite like Kei Takei. A tiny woman, she moves with the strength and conviction of some primeval peasant.

One sees these qualities in "Light," Takei's 21-part dance opus, her ongoing project since the late '60s. In each section of this monumental creation, one watches a specific ritual, game or relationship unfold.

The performers wear simple, vaguely Eastern garb. Often they sing, shout and pound rocks together rhythmically. Their movements are slow, weighty and absolutely fearless. They will hurl themselves across the floor, or clamber onto each other like monkeys. Sometimes violent, sometimes tender, each encounter affords a look at the gradual development of Takei's fictional society.

Friday night, in a benefit for the University of Maryland's Department of Dance scholarship fund, Takei and two members of her company, Moving Earth, will perform five excerpts from "Light," among them a trio of immense physical struggle, a solo in which Takei plays a frenzied spirit, and a section from Part 14 (Pine Cone Field) that takes a lighter tone and involves some charming loveplay.

The Contemporary Dancers of Alexandria (CODA) celebrate their seventh season this weekend with two performances of works by four area choreographers. Artistic director Jim Brown's "Colony" explores animal and human movement; an as-yet-untitled work by Wendy Woodson relates dance to the world of business; Richmond choreographer Melanie Snyder's "Mad Kings and Clowns" focuses on the relationship between two farcical souls; and Daniel West's "Engine" is an abstract work that uses minimal movements to create a feeling of increasing intensity.

KEI TAKEI'S MOVING EARTH -- Friday at 8, University of Maryland EE Studio Theater, College Park. Tickets $10. Call 454-4056;

CONTEMPORARY DANCERS OF ALEXANDRIA -- Friday and Saturday at 8, Lee Center, 1108 Jefferson Street, Alexandria. Tickets $7, $5 for students and seniors. Call 548-9123.