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Lecture: Sitting in a Well, Looking at the Sky

13. Jun 2024 @ 18:00 - 19:00

Sitting in a Well, Looking at the Sky
Daniel Mroz, PhD


Seminar Room 4, Institute for Sports Science

 Zuò jǐng guān tiān坐井觀天is an idiomatic saying derived from a story in the Zhuāngzǐ 莊子, a lighthearted Chinese philosophical work that presents funny and irreverent fables, allegories, and parables, which teasingly subvert any possibility of certain perception and judgement.

In one of these tales, a frog who lived in a dilapidated well celebrated his dominion over his tiny home, inviting a tortoise from the eastern ocean in for a visit. The sea tortoise was too large to fit itself into the well, and from outside told the frog about its own vasty ocean home, which was so hard for the little frog to imagine, that his mind scattered in all directions in astonishment, beside himself in his puniness (trans. Ziporyn, 2022: 140).

The saying zuò jǐng guān tiān has been my guide in the writing of my forthcoming book, Resonant Space: Religion, Theatre, and the Chinese Martial Arts. Each chapter is conceived of as a different well, revealing a different patch of sky to the frog who sits below.

In this presentation I shall examine the views from two different wells: the link between choreographed martial movement training and religious rituals, and the relationship between martial movement training and the development of spatial perception in the performing arts.

Ziporyn, B. trans. (2020). Zhuangzi: The Complete Works. Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett.

Daniel Mroz, PhD

Daniel Mroz teaches acting and directing for the stage in the Department of Theatre at the University of Ottawa. He has directed original theatre for festivals in Canada and the United States and has taught actors, directors, dancers and choreographers in North America, Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Turkey, and China. He also works as a dramaturg and facilitator for contemporary dancers, most recently with Canadian choreographer and dancer Katherine Ng. Daniel’s research focusses on the use of Chinese martial arts in contemporary theatre and dance. He contributes regularly to Martial Arts Studies, a new research area that he has helped to establish in collaboration with colleagues from around the world


This lecture is part of our lecture series 2024/2025:

Current Debates in Martial Arts Studies: Inter- and Transdisciplinary Approaches to Combative Movement Cultures (SoSe 2024, WiSe 2024/25)

Institut für Sportwissenschaften/Hochschulsport/Centre for Modern East Asian Studies


13. Jun 2024
18:00 - 19:00
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Seminar Room 4, Institute for Sports Science