SOME DANCERS make you think of iron, others of silk. Randy Warshaw is definitely in the latter category. An impossibly fluid and unencumbered mover, he has recently come into his own as a choreographer. And it's not surprising that the works he's crafted exhibit that same silken quality.
Warshaw began training in improvisational form during his student years at Hampshire College and went on to collaborate with Steve Paxton, the great '60s innovator Steve Paxton and father of that spontaneous, body-to-body sport known as "contact improvisation." Warshaw also spent seven years as a principal dancer with Trisha Brown Dance Company, and was one of the founding members of Channel Z, a group of New York artists who teamed up on dance-film-video projects.
In 1986 he established the Randy Warshaw Dance Company in 1986. Since then, the seven-member ensemble has been singled out for its technical and expressive gifts.
This weekend, as part of Dance Place's New Dance USA festival, the company presents two contrasting pieces, both of them mesmerizing. "Fragile Anchor," a swooping, swirling exercise for six fearless performers, calls to mind images of whirlpools, clouds and weather vanes. Set to Andy Tierson's brilliant "Quartet for Strings and Marimba" -- an alternately lush and folksy mix of dulcimer, jew's harp, violin, viola, bass, mandolin and marimba -- the dancers tenderly partner, whisk around and rush past one another like the denizens of some utopian community.
"Event Horizon" is a much darker work, both literally and figuratively. To John King's schizoid score of electric guitar riffs, drilling and old-time fiddling, seven performers group and regroup to suggest a troubled, fragmented society. Though the mood is foreboding, the movement is thrilling -- wild lifts and swivels, headstands and suspension abound. In all respects, this is a company and a choreographer whose progress will be fascinating to follow.
Among this weekend's other notable events is a program at Prince George's Publick Playhouse by veteran choreographer Meriam Rosen. A professor of dance at the University of Maryland, and for many years the guiding light of the spirited Improvisions Unlimited troupe, Rosen has created a body of work that exquisitely pinpoints the subtlest state of mind and heart. This performance, the first devoted entirely to her work since 1986, includes a new duet and ensemble work, plus the male quartet "Drifting" and last year's "Fierce Attachments."
RANDY WARSHAW DANCE COMPANY -- Friday and Saturday at 8, Sunday at 7 at Dance Place, 3225 Eighth St. NE. Call 269-1600.
DANCES BY MERIAM ROSEN -- Friday at 8. Prince George's Publick Playhouse, 5445 Landover Rd., Cheverly. Call 277-1710.