The warming light of Pola Nirenska's dance creativity has been shining forth in Washington for close to four decades. This coming weekend, Dance Place honors her on her 80th birthday with a program of her work, including her recently completed tetralogy of dances relating to her painful experiences as a refugee from Hitler's Holocaust.

Born in Warsaw, Nirenska studied and later performed with the German expressionist choreographer Mary Wigman, dancing with the Wigman troupe on a U.S. tour in 1932. Two years later, a prestigious award in Vienna launched her brilliant solo career. Retreating from the Axis forces, Nirenska settled in England for a dozen years, and then came to this country, in 1949, to study with Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman and Jose Limon. Two years later she moved permanently to Washington, where she has taught and choreographed under sundry auspices, including her own.

Among the Holocaust dances at Dance Place will be the premiere of "The Train," and two other ensemble works, "What Begins Also Ends" (1984) and "Dirge" (1982); the tetralogy is completed by the solo "Shout" (1987), which will be danced by guest artist Sharon Wyrrick. Also on the program will be a new solo Nirenska has created for guest artist Rima Faber. Other dancers participating will be Paula Camilli, Heather Doerbecker, Meryl W-Shapiro, Jan Taylor and Carrie Wilcox.

Performances are Saturday at 8:30 p.m. and Sunday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 general admission, and $8 for members, students, seniors and professional artists. For reservations, call 269-1600.