An Ellicott City woman, determined to broaden the range of dance instruction and performance available in the community, has initiated a program in which a variety of regional and national dance companies are hosted there.

Dorothy Fried, 45, is one of the few sponsors in the Washington-Baltimore area of her own dance series -- The Kinetics Dance Theatre -- which brings both regional and national troupes to her 125-person theater that doubles as a dance studio. The series is only one of Fried's endeavors to ensure that Howard County gets its share of dance. She also has founded her own company and a school attended by 250 students.

Fried still performs with her own company. But she also juggles the roles of choreographer and business manager for her company and dance series. Her dance background includes training with the Juilliard School in New York, and a stint with the Paul Taylor Dance Company. After teaching for several years at Towson State University, she decided to start her own company in 1984, now based in Ellicott City's Rockland Arts Center. The nonprofit series as well as the school is funded through state and local grants.

"I wanted a place for choreographers to present their work before {reaching} the Kennedy Center," said Fried, who believes there are few places for "non-major personalities" to perform before achieving national stature. "We are showing companies that wouldn't have come otherwise and are providing space for regional companies."

Fried's 1987-88 series includes eight companies and a range of dance, from avant-garde modern dance to the more traditional classical ballet. The next group in the series, "The Adaptors," an award-winning troupe from New York, and will perform Sunday, followed by a performance in Washington.

The dance series also allows Fried's students -- who assist in handling promotional and production activities -- to be involved in all facets of performance.

Fried said her greatest obstacle in presenting the series has been a reluctance by local media to publicize her shows. Because her studio is not located in the major cities of Baltimore or Washington, she must fight for publicity. Also, she said, local newspapers "tell me the community is a blue-collar crowd, and not interested in this kind of dance."

Fried disagrees with this theory, citing full houses whenever a show is publicized. Columbia, she said, "is an educated and integrated community" that lends much support.

Fried also said a significant number of concertgoers come from Washington. "It surprises even me," she said, speculating that the caliber of the companies draws the city crowd.

Fried said that despite constant financial obstacles, she plans to continue showcasing diverse dance talent: "In the long run, it's good for my students and good for my area," she said.