NEW YORK choreographer Donald Byrd creates pieces that stick in one's craw and head. A lively, slightly sinister-looking man with an unbridled imagination, he employs a host of means -- movement, oral monologues and exchanges, video images, music, elaborate costumes and lighting design -- to make controversial statements about race, relationships, art and the breakdown of society.

Trained at the London School of Contemporary Dance and the Alvin Ailey Center in New York, Byrd spent the early part of his career as a member of numerous dance companies, including those of Kathryn Posin, Twyla Tharp, Gus Solomons Jr. and Rosalind Newman. For three years he maintained his own modern dance company in Los Angeles. Since his return to New York, he has performed in the works of avant garde artists Robert Wilson and Karole Armitage.

Byrd's most recent work uses ideas and images from various forms of popular entertainment -- the minstrel show, social dances of the early 1900s, new wave and disco dancing -- to make sly, often angry commentaries. This Saturday, Byrd and his five-member troupe will present "A Formal Response," an evening-length work that includes music by Prince, a commissioned score by Carmen Moore, and extensive multi-media effects.

DONALD BYRD/THE GROUP -- Saturday at 8, Montgomery College Performing Arts Center, 51 Mannakee St., Rockville. Tickets $8, $7 for students and senior citizens. Call 269-1600.