About The Dancing Word

Wu Dao Yu Yan

Greetings and welcome to this blog, which will present my thoughts on the use of martial movement in the training of actors.

I’m a theatre artist specializing in the creation of original contemporary performances. The Dancing Word is an integrated approach to the training of performers that I am developing based on my studies of traditional Chinese martial arts, singing and rhythmic traditions from around the world, extended voice technique and contemporary approaches to actor training.

The name of the approach, The Dancing Word, comes from a Chinese calligraphy created by Winnipeg artist Joseph Lo for my colleague Olivier-Hugues Terreault and I in 1997. It shows the character for dance wu in an elongated form in relation to the character yu for word. My friend William Lau who is a Jingju (Chinese Opera) performer interpreted the calligraphy as Wu Dao De Yu Yan, or The Dancing Word.

I was a founding member of Montréal’s interdisciplinary performance group La Compagnie du Pont-fleurs and I am the founding director of One Reed Theatre Ensemble, based in Toronto. I am currently developing a new research project, Les Ateliers du corps. This studio, based in the Ottawa/Gatineau area will offer regular practical classes in performance technique and will develop original performances based on the sustained practice of the Dancing Word over a period of three years. We presented the outcome of our first year of work, a performance entitled Circe/Landfall, at the Canada Dance Festival in June of 2010.

I did my academic work in the Doctorat en études et pratiques des arts at l’Université du Québec à Montréal, a practical, interdisciplinary arts Ph.D. I am an Associate Professor in the Theatre Department of the University of Ottawa, where I have worked since July 2005.

In theatre, I studied with Canadian director and teacher Richard Fowler and his company Primus Theatre from 1993-97. I also was a part of Victor Garaway’s Project Group in Montréal during its last year of activities and studied voice and singing with both Steven Lecky and Stefka Iordanova.

In martial arts I trained in Choy Li Fut Kuen (Cailifoquan), Tong Ping Taigek Kuen (a branch of Wu Taijiquan) and Zhi Neng Qigong with Wong Sui Meing in Montréal from 1993-2005. I have also studied a wide variety of traditional qigong styles with Ken Cohen, with whom I began to train in 1999. I learned such qigong ‘classics’ as the Xi Sui Jing, the Yi Jin Jing and the Shiba Lohan as well as Longmen Daoist qigong practices in which Ken specializes.

Since 2005 I’ve been studying Chen Taijiquan with Chen Zhonghua. The particular approach Chen Zhonghua teaches is called Shiyong Quanfa or Practical Method. In addition to regular private lessons, I have spent several months on Daqingshan Mountain in Shandong Province, China studying full time with Master Chen.

I’m very interested in Asian traditions of meditation and embodied religious practice. I was introduced to the practice of Dzogchen by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, Daojiao by Michael Saso and Ken Cohen and Chö by Lama Jigme Jinpa.

The goal of this blog is to provide information and reflection in a concise and accessible format. While mostly everything I state here can be supported by academic citations, for brevity’s sake I will be emphasizing direct language, as opposed to a formal scholarly or overly personal style.

The writings on this blog are all copyright protected. Please do not republish or quote without my express permission.

I hope you enjoy this site and find the information useful.

Daniel Mroz, Ph.D.


21 Responses to “About The Dancing Word”

  1. do you want to put a link to my website ottawastiltunion.ca?

  2. Done!


  3. Dude, this blog is great! Laurel and I are off to Morocco in a week and 2 days, and Megan and I are working on this show, so I’ll probably have a bit more time to talk right before I go. I will be in touch then.

  4. Oro-te Pahlavani! So glad you’re reading here, hoping to see you guys this weekend. XOX D.

  5. Hey Dan,
    Just wanted to say, I finally did that recording session here in the UK! You can get a preview at http://www.myspace.com/jimbogood
    Nothing’s been properly mixed or mastered, but it’ll give you an idea. No firm plans at this point. Hope you’re doing well!

  6. Thanks Jim, I’ll check it out.


  7. Dear Dr. Mroz,

    I noted with interest your comments on “The Five Healing Sounds” at another website. The phonics of Chinese, Japanese, etc. is an unknown continent as far as I’m consulted, but you have admirably summed up my conclusions in “Body of Myth” that the origin of nealy all the critical proper names of myth must originally have derived from verbal approximations to the unpronounceable sounds made by the various organs of the human body as heard during meditation. It is this notion of “approximation” that you omitted pointing out in your excellent comment. In the Old testament, as you may recall, the Holy Name of God is described as “ineffable,” which has usually been interpreted to mean that one “should not” pronounce the Holy Name, rather than, as I have argued, that one “cannot pronounce” It.

    The necessity of approximating the sounds heard in trance when attempting latterly to write them down leads to wide variability in the proper nounds, for example, of deities, that one encounters in myth. Such variability notwithstanding, the names do seem to me to fall into the categories of a roar, a crackle, and a whine (to which I would add the occasional “thud thud” of the gross beating heart, very prominent during meditation).

    The one thing I do know about Oriental phonetics is that it is tonic, which is to say musically pitched. In that regard, I do know a thing or two about the Indo-European languages, where it is universally agreed that originally the syllables were also tonically accented as rising, falling, and rounded, which is to say, both rising and falling n a single syllable. In Chinese, as I understand it, the musicality of pronunciation is still essential, in Greek the tonic accents still apply but they have lost all tonality and now indicate, as they have for some time, merely a stress of the voice. The situation is much the same in Sanskrit, I believe.

    Finally, a point I should like to stress is my conviction that the sounds of any language have an intrinsic morphemic quality, that is to say, they convey an atom of “somatic meaning” when pronounced. The semantics of “r” or “k” or “n” doubtless varies from language to language, yet is is a restrained variation.

    Once again, thank you for citing my work, particularly in the area of “mantra,” which I have always believed holds a great deal of promise in many areas of research but had also received almost no attention (in the few instances BoM has received any attntion!) until I read your post of 9/21/08.


    Joe Sansonese

    aka J. Nigro Sansonese

  8. Dear Mr. Sansonese,

    Such a pleasure to hear from you! I loved The Body of Myth, which I first read in 2004 on the advice of my friend Allen Pittman (www.apittman.com). It was really an enormous resource for me. The excerpt over at Scott’s website is from my upcoming book, but it originally comes from my PhD dissertation, where I made frequent use of your ideas about sound, language and our proprio- and interoceptive experiences. While it was a bit less germane to my research at the time, I nevertheless also appreciated your take on Jung, Campbell and company. Your thesis really allows us to make the bridge between the social relevance and the embodied/objective relevance of myth.

    I’m currently interested in the physiological differences between meditative and trance practices that require a static body and a quiet mind and those that use movement, intention and visualization. I’m particularly interested in the meditator’s experience of transcending space and time (which seems to occur in traditions of practice that use movement) and the experience of the dissolution of self, which seems to require stillness in the body and therefore the parietal lobe. Anything you’d have to offer on this topic (and any other) would be most welcome. Do you have plans for another book?



  9. I ****loved**** “nor the cavaliers” (and think it should be touring) and see your ‘mark’ on it… as in: ‘gesture’; brushstroke; vision;

    hope that all things go well and happily for you…


    Alison Webber

  10. Thanks Alison – leave me your email and I’ll keep you posted on upcoming shows.


  11. Long seeking it through others,
    I was far from reaching it.
    Now I go by myself;
    I meet it everywhere.
    It is just I myself,
    And I am not itself.
    Understanding this way,
    I can be as I am.

    I like i very much. Would like to know the original Chinese version.Thank you!

  12. Ninhao Jade,

    I am looking for the original; the poem is by 洞山良价. I’ll let you know when I find it. My gu wen is bu hao, so it may take me a while!



  13. 丹明博士:谢谢您! I will do myself.

  14. 甭客氣 Jade, let me know if you find the original poem, I’d love to see the Chinese characters.


  15. “切忌从他觅,迢迢与我疏。

  16. 谢谢您 Jade 丹明

  17. 我应该先谢谢您。

  18. 🙂

  19. I was looking for your post on the 5 healing sounds, as mentioned by Joe Sansonese in his comment, but I cannot find it. I am interested to read what you say about it. Please let me know how to find it.

    I enjoyed reading the post by Ken Cohen about the Medical Qigong book from China. He has a depth of knowledge about qigong that I really do appreciate.

  20. Hello Randy,

    My post was over at Scott Phillips’ blog. It was in response to his comments on the healing sounds and African singing traditions… Glad you appreciated Ken’s comments on the qigong book. D.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: