The last time dance iconoclast David Gordon was in Washington he set the town -- indeed, the whole dance world -- astir with the world premiere of his witty conundrum, "Field, Chair and Mountain," as performed by American Ballet Theatre at the Kennedy Center Opera House.

That was three months ago. This week, Gordon returns with his own ground-breaking troupe, the David Gordon/Pick Up Co., to perform his two newest creations, "A Plain Romance Explained" and "My Folks." The occasion is the opening of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Festival being presented in this area for the first time by the American College Dance Festival Association, at the University of Maryland. The Gordon program will take place in the University's Tawes Theatre at 8 Wednesday evening.

The two new works, each about 40 minutes long, both call for eight dancers, including Gordon, his frequent partner (and wife) Valda Setterfield and the six other dancers of Gordon's company. Like the ABT opus, "A Plain Romance Explained" has music by the 19th-century English composer John Field, credited with originating the genre of piano pieces known as nocturnes. "My Folks" uses klezmer music -- Jewish folk music from Eastern Europe -- and involves fabric designs by award-winning visual artist Power Boothe. The two pieces won't be seen in Gordon's home base of New York until May, when the company moves into the Joyce Theater for a week of performances.

The ACDFA Festival, embracing three days of classes and workshops, will culminate in a Festival Concert at Tawes Saturday night, the program to be chosen by adjudication from among the 16 participating college and university dance departments. The festival faculty includes such area dance notables as Liz Lerman, Maida Withers and Meriam Rosen, as well as luminaries from elsewhere, including Gordon, Setterfield, Kei Takei, Jeff Duncan, Don Redlich and Bessie Schonberg.