An 11-year-old Serbian child describes the brutalities of war in diary entries that condition the increasingly agonized choreography of "Dear Mimmy," the longest and most ambitious dance drama on an unrelievedly intense program by the Regina Klenjoski Dance Company at Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica on Thursday.
Most of Klenjoski's other pieces had used her skilled six-member modern dance ensemble to depict sexual combat: women who enjoyed making men crawl, men who punished women for any expression of tenderness or need.
In "Three to Tango," for instance, Milva Rinaldelli warily gave herself to Albertossy Espinoza and Osvaldo Rodriguez as if shopping for the man who would hurt her least. Meanwhile her studly partners watched her carefully for any sign of weakness and even partnered one another to incite her to make a definitive choice.
Rinaldelli ended in control, with Espinoza and Rodriguez in step behind her, but her loneliness spoke more strongly than her dominance, just as Marissa Labog's self-sufficiency in the gymnastic solo "To Stand Alone" looked essentially defensive--a shield against inevitable pain.
Klenjoski's hyperkinetic style served her well in these brief, intimate character studies and sketches of joyless relationships. But the daunting social canvas of "Dear Mimmy" found her relying on swirly, generalized group effects that tested the stamina of her dancers but never really matched the text (projected onto two slide-screens) in eloquence.
Missing most of all: dance images to anchor the sense of growing chaos. Klenjoski offered nonstop action and emoting but never a focused, indelible statement.
The previously reviewed duets "She Said" and "Waiting for Solitude" completed the program.
* Regina Klenjoski Dance Company performs tonight at 8:30 in Highways Performance Space, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica. $13 (students) to $15. (310) 315-1459.