A professor in the Theatre Department of the University of Ottawa since 2005, Daniel Mroz is director of the BFA program in stage acting and the MFA program in directing for the theatre. In the 1990s, he apprenticed as an actor with director Richard Fowler. In the early 2000s he earned his Doctorat en études et pratiques des arts from l’Université du Québec à Montréal. Daniel has directed in Canada, the United States and Austria, and taught actors, directors, dancers and choreographers in Canada, the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, and China. His scholarly and artistic work focusses on the use of Chinese martial arts and physical culture in contemporary theatre and dance. He is a long-time practitioner of the Chinese martial arts including Choy Li Fut Kuen 蔡李佛拳, Tong Ping Taigek Kuen 唐鹏太极拳, Chén Tàijíquán 陈太极拳and Wǔdāng 武当swordplay. His principal teacher is Tàijíquán expert Chén Zhōnghuá 陈中华. Daniel Mroz is the author of The Dancing Word, a book about the Chinese martial arts in the creation of contemporary theatre, published by Brill (2011).
This paper explores the experience of space afforded by the practice or liàn of tàolù 练套路, the prearranged movement patterns of the Chinese martial arts. It examines the roots of tàolù in Chinese martial preparation, religious self-consecration and theatrical performance. It develops the structure and phenomenology of this practice with special attention to its exponents’ perceptions of negative space. Following an interdisciplinary approach, the author contextualizes embodied, martial knowledge in terms of Chinese social history, theatre and religious praxis.