VETERAN modern dance choreographer Erick Hawkins is as much a philosopher as he is a creative artist. His serene, stress-avoiding technique could be viewed as the movement equivalent of Zen. His rejection of all physical or psychological aggression has resulted in a troupe of totally "centered" performers who often interact as figures in some utopian realm, and a repertoire of dances that tend to leave a spectator feeling more massaged than shaken up.

Hawkins, 78, developed this decidedly unmacho, intellectual stance after intense involvement in two high-power artistic situations: performing and choreographing ballets in the early companies of George Balanchine, and partnering modern dance matriarch Martha Graham (to whom he was briefly married). To look at his work as a rebellion against such domineering forces makes it all the more interesting.

Hawkins is also a staunch devotee of live musical accompaniment, despite the obvious economic advantage of tapes and records. For his most recent dance, "God the Reveller," he commissioned a score by Alan Hovhaness; "Ahab," a retelling of the Moby Dick epic, is set to music by Ross Lee Finney. These and other compositions will be played by the nine-member ensemble that is as integral a part of the company as the dancers.

Hawkins (he still dances!) and associates perform a repertoire of 10 works that represent a creative span of almost 50 years. ERICK HAWKINS DANCE COMPANY --

Appearing Friday and Saturday in the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater.