ALTHOUGH A LOT of today's dances purport to be about movement for movement's sake, it's hard to perceive them that way. Consider the small but resonant body of work created over the past five years by choreographer Anna Leo. When she and her dancers light into her alternately hyped-up and swoony phrases, folk-style steps and quirky chorus lines, one senses interactions and emotions bubbling up to this well- crafted surface.

For example, in her 1980 duet, "Gold," Leo and Nancy Nasworthy -- both exceptionally lucid dancers -- dance solo and together, in silence. Outfitted in modish tunics and pants and sparkly jazz shoes, they initially present a cool, glamorous picture. But the balance between utter control and the unexpectedly brash gesture, and the alert and slightly wary way in which the two confront each other, sets one wondering about their relationship. The trio "Home, or Some Memories," which had its premiere last summer in New York, sounds equally provocative, and funny as well. There's a competitive edge to it, and a conversational air as well. And the combination of two women and one man (Ron Lybeck) makes for a host of possibilities.

ANNA LEO -- Friday and Saturday at 8:30 p.m. at The Dance Place, 2424 18th Street NW. Tickets $5-$7. Call 462-1321.