When Ralph Lemon's Sleep was performed at MoMing a few years ago, the dancers entered from a side door, and then one by one they disappeared back through the door. Only at the end did I realize that in the dream world of the dance all of the dancers had just died. Sleep was a ravishing dance about spirituality without religion and about facing death and absence. But when critics raved that Lemon had ushered in a "new emotionalism," he promptly did an about-face. The three new dances he brings to Chicago are made of abstract movement; their scores are the only obvious difference between them. Sextet is set to a late Beethoven piano sonata; Phrases Almost Biblical is performed in silence, accompanied only by the dancers' breathing and spoken commands; and Their Eyes Rolled Back in Ecstasy is performed to the discordant sound of three pieces of music being played simultaneously. Instead of creating dances with readable meanings, Lemon has plunged into the mystical territory of pure movement, where, as he says, "Whenever a human body moves, it carries a spirit within it." Lemon has changed his focus from invoking emotions in the audience to invoking emotions in the dancers. The movements in the new dances are as direct and plain as a Shaker chair and infused with a humble spirituality. Thursday through Saturday, December 10-12, at 8 at the Dance Center of Columbia College, 4730 N. Sheridan; $12-$14. Call 271-7928 for tickets and info.