Lin Hwai-min, artistic director of the Taipei Contemporary Dance Theater, started out as a writer. "My parents didn't encourage it dance for a boy, so I became a writer," he says. "But dance was my first love."

Lin always managed to take dance courses. After coming to the United States in the early '70s as a writing fellow at the University of Iowa, he decided to study dance more seriously, ending up at the Martha Graham School and the Merce Cunningham Studio in New York. When he returned to Taipei, he founded the Cloudgate Dance Theatre. Later he studied classical dance in Korea and Japan and in 1982 became director of the Taipei Contemporary Dance Theatre, bringing with him some of Cloudgate's original members.

Lin blends theater and dance techniques of East and West and works to create striking and colorful visual images. His work "Dreamscape," which makes its Washington debut tomorrow at 8 in the Lisner Auditorium, features five live peacocks and deals with the conflict between reality and dreams. Another work, "Legacy," will be presented on Tuesday with a repeat of "Dreamscape" on Wednesday, ending the ensemble's first appearance here.

"Now I write with bodies and space and music," Lin says. "It's a challenge to work with dancers -- with writing you just tear up what you don't like. But you can't chop off the arm or leg of a dancer whom you love dearly."