Cynthia Thompson and Kate Trammell were looking for freedom.

They teach dance at James Madison University, but that didn't really allow them the freedom to create -- at least not to the extent they desired.

So, they founded their own company, Thompson & Trammell & Friends -- a duet with a bevy of contributing dancers.

"We like the freedom of having guest performers dancing with us, and guest choreographers," says Thompson of her modern dance repertory company. "We like having the different influences."

When Thompson & Trammell travels to Washington this week, the dancers will be bringing an assortment of works -- some their own, some they commissioned, some they just sort of acquired.

One they acquired is by Washington choreographer Meriam Rosen.

"We've always wanted to have a work by her," says Thompson. So, Rosen created "Schizophrenic Girl," a duet set to the a cappella sounds of the Washington group the Triangles. "The piece ranges from humorous to disturbing. It has elements of humor and pathos in it."

One of their commissioned pieces is "Guza Guza," Shane O'Hara's funky work set to the music of rap impresario M.C. Hammer, presented by four dancers. ("Guza," says Thompson, means "mumble" in Japanese).

"It's kind of bizarre," laughs Thompson. "We are very confused people in it. It's a high-energy kind of piece. O'Hara's work is always sort of on the edge, slightly off-center."

The company also will perform Thompson's own work, "(She was a) PINK CHAMELEON," a semi-autobiographical, feminine introspective, narrated piece about growing up in the South.

"I am talking about a person who changes like a chameleon according to the situation," she explains. "I think it is something that is female, either inbred or taught. As it turns out, all these stories and this description turns out, even though there are a lot of people onstage and things going on, that it is about one person." It is set to the live harmonica playing of composer Gary Green.

Thompson & Trammell & Friends are performing Saturday night at 8:30 and next Sunday night at 7:30 at Dance Place. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $8 for students, seniors and professional artists. For information, call 269-1600.