LISTENING to the participants at a recent Dance USA conference talk about management practices, corporate support and marketing surveys, local choreographer and professor Maida Withers was left with this troubling question: Does dance as business pose a threat to dance as art? That question eventually became the basis for Withers' latest work, "State of The Art."

It is one of her most dramatic works. Four dancers in white suits perform in unison against a female soloist: Their interactions are a metaphor for the conflict between economics and art, and point up the seductive aspects of the business world.

The work was developed in collaboration with Washington composer Michael Willis, who has created an intense, driving score for 20 instruments realized on a synthesizer.

Withers and her Dance Construction Co. will also premiere her "Scat," a light and humorous dance that has its roots in be-bop. Rounding out the program will be "Quest" and "Domain/Dialogue," both restaged excerpts from Withers' "Laser Dance," an evening-length work that premiered last year.

MAIDA WITHERS & THE DANCE CONSTRUCTION CO. -- Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., George Washington University's Marvin Center Theater, 800 21st St. NW. Tickets $10, $7 for students and seniors. Call 676-6577.