W & M Physical Theatre’s Waiting Rooms in Heaven Reflects On The Life (Not) Lived


Presented at the University Theatre, W & M Physical Theatre’s preview of its latest work in development Waiting Rooms in Heaven summons poignant reflections on life and the life (not) lived.

The piece takes place inside a room decorated with pristine white chairs. The only exit is a door atop some stairs, but out this door are a flock of birds that obscure the sky. This place is nowhere exact or well-defined. It is a metaphysical space whereupon eight unfortunate individuals enter into without any answers nor any clarity. Regrets from the past soon reemerge and make heavy the souls of those trapped in this mysterious unknown.

There is woven into this piece this desire that life choices were not so permanent. It is an idea that repeats itself as a wish that life were written in pencil than in pen, that one could go back and do things differently. It is an idea, however, that removes the opportunity to not only learn, but to also experience life in the moment. After all, what is a life stripped of its spontaneity? What is a life interrupted by fear and anxiety?

Driving this idea of doing one’s life over again are the “what ifs” the adult characters of this piece find themselves trapped within. Repeated again and again are what the characters wish they could have done differently if only ‘this’ or ‘that’. It is fitting then that the there is an almost violent sense of control in the movement. As if trying to change the outcomes of some past scenarios, the dancers attempt to manipulate and bend to their will the other. Their efforts are in vain just as wondering “what if?” is a futile attempt at changing the past. Where they manage to exert any sort of “real” control is in throwing the rows of chairs into one large pile. Of course, what meaningful impact does such a destructive action have in the grand scheme of things?

The company has incorporated in this piece four actors who range from 10 to 60 years old. It makes sense that the two adult characters would carry some baggage as they certainly have had the years to accumulate such burdens, but what about the little girl and teenager trapped in this room with the others? How do they, who appear to be brother and sister, fit in this place? Perhaps their baggage is of the second-hand kind, the kind handed down through the generations. If this is the case, then perhaps their wish is not to have lived life differently, but to have been born into a whole different life altogether.

The piece ends on a hopeful tone when the door is opened once again and, this time, soaring birds greet the characters. It is an invitation to let go and move on, to fly away and live a life unrestrained.

Here, the company’s latest work explores the idea that the gravity of our burdens are only as great as we allow them to be. While the current circumstances of our lives may be cemented as a result of choices made, the life not yet lived remains to be written. And this life that waits for us relies upon on the right state of mind which, in the end, makes all the difference.

With this only being stage one of development, it will be interesting to see how the piece evolves and what it will ultimately resemble when W & M Physical Theatre brings Waiting Rooms in Heaven to Calgary again in 2016.

W & M Physical Theatre’s Waiting Rooms in Heaven ran at the University of Calgary’s University Theatre Jan 22 – 24, 2014. The piece was presented as part of U of C’s School of Creative and Performing Arts’ Dance Pro Series.

Choreographed by: Wojciech Mochniej with Melissa Monteros
Performers: Wojciech Mochniej, Laura Henley, Rufi O. Rodriguez, and Serenella Sol
Guest Performers: Valerie Campbell, Valerie Pearson, Griffin Cork, Ruby June Bishop, and Kent Brockman (bass)

For more information about the show, visit: 


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Review    Waiting Rooms in Heaven

by Jared Tobias Herring
For those looking for something to do this weekend,
Look no further than “Waiting Rooms in Heaven,”
W&M Physical Theater’s latest creation.
In this piece, Artistic Directors and Choreographers Wojciech Mochniej & Melissa Monteros offer a sense of total theatre in their combination of live music, dance, spoken text and video projection.Do something different, witness and support what YYC is producing!
Where: University Theatre
Show times:
Thursday, Jan 22, 2015 @8pm
Friday, Jan 23, 2015 @8pm
Saturday, Jan 24, 2015 @8pm

Tickets: $15 Adult – $10 Students/Seniors(FREE for UofC Students who show their ID).Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/571507086314604/

Entering the theater, you can expect to see roughly 27, pristine white chairs
populating the dance floor within a white square.
In the darkened upstage, black stairs lead to mysterious black door.
The set is truly a feast for your eyes. However,
the moment the house lights dim – initiating showtime
the stage becomes a living organism.
The darkness is filled with faint movements.
Dim lighting bathes the floor and its dancers in mosaic designs;
performers mold with the shadows, entering and exiting
like ghosts shifting in a misty graveyard.
The chairs act as the central prop for this piece; they are slid, shifted,
sat in, balanced on and thrown – causing a constant reconfiguration of the space.
The utilization of the props is both subtle and intentional.
Similar to how lungs take in and expel air automatically,
so too does the set design transform seamlessly, often by surprise.
I must admit that the rebel in me
finds something so satisfying in watching the clean, perfect chairs
being tossed carelessly into a pile.
Interestingly, Monteros shares in the choreographer’s note:We began this work inspired by a simple image: a huge
pile of chairs in a warehouse lot by our studio.
                        Wojciech told me, “that’s the set for our new work.”
The choreography is exquisite and ambitious. Movement is dynamic, detailed
and awe inspiring in its fluidity – no effort is wasted in the transfer of energy.
Dancers skillfully command the stage with confidence,
showcasing delicious long lines, sophisticated partnering,
and emotional intensity.There is a tenderness among the connections that, in combination
with the heaviness of mood, lead me to contemplation.In short: I am reminded of my mortality; invited too, to reflect upon
the choices I have made in my life and the journey I currently embark on.A delightful and inspiring performance for all ages to enjoy.



Just about to head back into rehearsals for WRinHeaven.  So looking forward to it!

In the meantime, West Side Story is into rehearsals on the stage and lighting begins tomorrow.

Wojtek has his head down, working on sound, video and reviewing rehearsal videos.

Happy New Year!


A busy week! Last Saturday we launched into Pro Series rehearsals; Sunday, we had another performance of Inventories of Bodies. That same evening, James Graham arrived. Wednesday, Sasha Ivanochko returned to Montreal; tonight, we offer the first Gaga class in Calgary with James Graham…
Never a dull moment! Hope you all enjoy the class!

SASHA IVANOCHKO guest teaches for SURGE CO

The Surge Company had the great pleasure of working with renowned Canadian dance artist Sasha Ivanochko this past Monday.

Ms. Ivanochko spent 3 hours with the pre-professional company and helped move them forward in their aspirations to develop as dance artists.

Grateful for the opportunity, their responses were beyond enthusiastic!

Watch for the new Surge Co Members!

W&M have just completed the final auditions for the SURGE Company.

Returning dancers Emily Henley, Quinn Kliewer, Tessa Mark and Kate Van Kruyssen

will be joined this year by new members

Christah Ah, Corynne Bison, Cindy Chen, Alexandra Hay, Brittany Maddox, and Karen Viera de la Torre



“Inventories of Bodies in Movement: Dance is a Weapon”
Sunday September 7th 5pm at ContainR
Tuesday September 9th 5pm at the University of Calgary outside the Taylor Digital Library

This has been a collaborative project between the Division of Dance and W&M Dance Projects of Calgary. It was offered as a Block Course (5 days) at the University of Calgary.

More detailed course/performance information:

Inventories of Bodies in Movement is an interactive dance project that speaks to the identity of one’s self and to the cultural and social constructs that define how a universal subject (i.e., the body) is perceived in our modern, multi-cultural society. Inventories of Bodies in Movement is a humanist project that focuses on the values and concerns between people of different backgrounds, cultural groups, and experiences in life, and the similarities and differences in their perceptions of the body. The goal of the project is to explore and address the body as “self,” as social and cultural construct, as a vessel for personal history. The project seeks to bring, through the beauty of the movement arts, awareness of the ideas we hold both commonly and differently. Through this process we will engage in the search for a commonality of understanding of our society, and an acknowledgement of the differences.

Mochniej and Fricker bring together people of different ages, social classes, cultures, and body types in a celebration of these differences. This project’s ambition is to reveal commonalities and impart understanding of our differences by exposing, exploring, and sharing our perceptions of the body.
The theme of Inventories of Bodies in Movement is Dance is a Weapon.
Dance is a Weapon is the slogan of the New Dance Group, created in 1931 in the US and close to the American far-left. These dancers and choreographers have shown that dance is not only part of the entertainment industry or an aesthetic, but it can also be an ideological vector, a form of social struggle in the fight helping minority groups.

Through the direction Fricker and Mochniej , each performer has explored and created movement utilizing various stimuli (visual, tactile, sound, text, literal) to create their own movement score and the discovery of a ‘body story’ or ‘body song’. The rehearsal process attempts to allow the creation of movement that is closely related to each participant’s story and imagination. As cultural ideas around the body and beauty are profoundly different between culture, social class and age group, we feel that the integration of
differing types of participants in this piece allows a rich exploration of the subject matter.

Audience members are invited to let their gaze wander and create their own point of view. One can be moved by an everyday gesture, or empathize with a corporal signature; in any case one can return to the essence of the body as a medium. By discovering the untrained mover, the recreational mover, as well as professional dancers, audience members can recognize aspects of themselves in these dancing bodies. Much like the process that happens during the workshop/rehearsals of the piece, when presented to the public it is meant to make the audience explore and investigate their own notions of “the body” and how the constructs of culture and social norms influence their perceptions.


THE CUBE – Pumphouse Theatre, Calgary  @ 8PM, April 3&5

“The Cube by Melissa Monteros opens a fantastic door into a parallel universe: a voyage into the deepest feelings of human beings, their reactions and ways of confronting who they are in the world. With a mixture of movement, video and live music, this piece presents a captivating atmosphere that invades the space with a magical mood, full of passion and intensity. From the beginning to the end, The Cube presents a whole new perspective on the world, through movement, while thousands of colors and sounds complete the effect of the dance, making it pleasurable to the senses.”

By Sisa Madrid – published through the U of C ADDF Dance Blog