The men took center stage in El Teatro de Danza Contemporanea de El Salvador's Sunday evening concert at Dance Place. The eight-member troupe from San Salvador has just three women, and the two principal choreographers--dancers Francisco Castillo and Erick Gonzalez--create works to showcase the strengths of the company's men. Limber and fluid modern dancers, the men have it all: strong, lithe torsos, graceful arms, powerful legs, strong backs. "Love Me, Miss Me, Want Me," Gonzalez's premiere, showed off voluptuous arabesques and ample lunges. The dancers, Gonzalez, Castillo and Rafael Perdomo, didn't shy away from the sheer physicality of the lifts, falls, catches and rolls.

"0f the Love That Is Not Spoken Between Fertile Soils . . ." reflected the difficulty of living between two cultures. Again the men showcased their elegance and athleticism, but the choreography--here by Castillo and Gonzales--on a second viewing proved heavy with cliches: a man dancing with hands tied behind his back; a duet for men with masks; a section of random running back and forth across the stage.

Miya Hisaka Silva, the company founder and artistic director, premiered "Destino," a ponderous group work with dramatic music by Hans Zimmer. Featured dancer Castillo opens and closes the work in a crouched position, seeming to dash all hopes of an uplifting ending. A naturalistic study, Castillo's "Painted Birds," relied on African rhythms and nuances, including the birdlike Aileyesque arms of the six dancers whose undulations urged them to fly. "Concierto," by guest choreographer Eduardo Rogel, showcased the classical side of the company with the women in point shoes and the men performing traditional ballet lifts.

Since its inception in 1994, TDC has committed itself to its nation's cultural revival following the 12-year civil war in El Salvador. Past programs reflected that strong national and social commitment. This year the company took the more traditional modern dance route, with dances about personal relationships, a pair of purely physical pieces and a heavy metaphor. The unique voice of a still-struggling culture got lost in the choreography.