Kei Takei is a Japanese choreographer who has been working on an opus she calls "Light" since she moved to the United States in the late 1960s. One of the most distinctive choreographers working today, Takei opens up her universe in each part of "Light," providing the viewer with a sensation of randomly breaking in on activity that has been going on forever.

Last night at the University of Maryland's Studio Theater, Takei's Moving Earth Chamber Ensemble presented four sections of "Light," which were created over 11 years. In its range, this program served as a useful index to Takei's choreographic and philosophic evolution.

In "Light, Part 5" (1971), as the dancers alternately supported each other's inert bodies, Takei suggested human interdependence. Later, in her solo from "Light, Part 8" (1973), she literally tied herself into a knot with bundles of cloth, evoking images ranging from the taking on of troubles to human acquisitiveness.

It was in the Duet from "Light, Part 14, Pine Cone Fields," which she danced with Lazro Brezer, that Takei's ironic side came out as she suggested that all of life is a journey performed for the amusement of a godlike onlooker (Richard Epstein). In the First Daikon Field Solo from "Light, Part 16" (1982), she sowed and reaped while worshiping a large wooden daikon (a bullet-shaped radish).

This sampling made clear that all of "Light" deals with the indomitability of the human spirit. Like the Japanese modern dance movement called butoh, Takei views humanity as moving under burdens imposed by fate. Some of the features of her vocabulary -- distorted limbs, extreme arch of the back and clawed hands -- are also shared with butoh. However, unlike butoh's post-Hiroshima pessimism, Takei's work asserts her faith in humanity, and it is a view that is becoming more tempered and gentle over the years of "Light."

The program will be repeated tonight at 8.