CHOREOGRAPHER Lesa McLaughlin is every inch an "Eighties" performer and creator. Simultaneously intense and cool, she's as much an athlete as a dancer, unafraid to hit the floor hard and follow that up by heaving herself through space and onto another dancer's back.

Androgyny interests her a great deal, so you'll sometimes find her and the other women in her company garbed in men's attire, short hair slicked and spiked, trying on gender-bending poses and attitudes.

McLaughlin's work and career have a definitely contemporary edge. In only three years, she has created a number of high-powered solos and group pieces, formed her own company, become managing director of Dance Place/Takoma and a teacher at her alma mater, George Mason University.

Her dances touch on such subjects as bag ladies, marathon running, bureaucratic breakdown, role-playing and television, and though some of these works are not as developed as they could be, they all share a very specific energy and sense of purpose.

For their first full-concert appearance this season at the Dance Place, McLaughlin and her strong troupe -- Cheryl Bendenbaugh, Dave Esguerra, E'Dior Fitzgerald, Mary Beth Flournoy, Lori McGuin -- will perform six works, half of them premieres, that clearly demonstrate this young artist's range and ambition.

LESA MCLAUGHLIN & DANCERS -- Friday and Saturday at 8:30, Sunday at 5 at The Dance Place, 2424 18th Street NW. Tickets $8, $7 for students and senior citizens. 462- 1321.