University of Calgary

Wojciech Mochniej

  • Senior Instructor

Biography

Born and raised in Lublin, Poland, Mochniej has studied with and performed in the work of a number of prominent New York artists including Anna Sokolow, Talley Beatty, Mark Haim, Stephanie Skura and Risa Jaraslow. He has also performed in the work of Alpo Aaltokoski (Finland), Avi Kaiser (Belgium/ Israel), Paula Ross, Davida Monk and Darcy McGehee (Canada), and others. As an improviser he has studied with Ray Chung, Chris Aiken, David Dorfman and Martin Keough. He has performed with Ray Chung both in Poland and in Calgary. Mochniej’s work in theatre includes study with Polish actors, Jan Peszek, Grzegosz Bral and Jacek Ozimek.

He was an original member of Silesian Dance Theatre, Poland, (1991-1994) which is identified as the first professional contemporary dance company in Poland. There, he met Monteros and launched the company (W&M) with her in 1994. Mochniej has been an artist in residence for the Bruckner Conservatory, Austria, and for many festivals in Poland and abroad. He created work for “So You Think You Can Dance” Poland. In Calgary, he was a member of Theatre Junction’s Resident Company of Artists based at The GRAND, and a frequent teacher for Decidedly Jazz Dancework’s company class. He has received awards for his contributions to dance in Poland from the cities of both Gdansk and Lublin. His solo work has been presented in Calgary, at the Full Moon Dance Festival in Finland, at the National Theatre in Warsaw and throughout Poland. Dance Europe named his performance of solo work, Just Po Prostu “Best Performance by a Male Dancer”. With Monteros, his work has been seen in Austria, Estonia, Finland, France, Poland, Germany, and Italy, as well as Canada.

Mochniej is a full-time dance faculty member at the University of Calgary. As Instructor in the Dance Division, Wojciech Mochniej teaches contemporary dance, choreography, dance and the camera, dance improvisation, and dance repertory and performance. A professional dance artist of international repute, Mochniej continues to perform and choreograph in Canada and Europe, an international profile which contributes significantly to his students’ global perspective on contemporary dance. Mr. Mochniej has very high expectations of his students’ commitment to their learning and personal development as dance artists. He believes passionately in challenging students to take risks and inspires students to push beyond their comfort levels. He has been a Guest Artist/Instructor in the department of Dance at the University of Calgary since 1995.

Research

Jump to:
Choreography & Performance
Dance on Film

Choreography & Performance

2013

CoACTION: Force or Compulsion? 
A dance theatre work that explores the expressive range and impulse of our human interactions. Are our actions put into motion by force or compulsion? By circumstance or determination? By impulse or desire?
Choreography: Melissa Monteros & Wojciech Mochniej
Soundscape: Wojciech Mochniej with music by Scarlotti and Caldara (performed by Cecelia Bartoli, Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre) Murcof, Holly Herndon, Denzel and Huhn
Performers: Natalia Babanova, Lauren Cote, Laura Henley, Chelsey Higdon, Rufino Rodriguez, Luis Enrique Nájera
Stage Design & Video Editing: Wojciech Mochniej
Light Design: Steve Isom

The Cube
The primary concept and exploration of The Cube is around the Rubik’s Cube puzzle - this varicolored, many-sided box is utilized as a metaphor for our multi-faceted selves and ability to be part of a whole. It becomes a metaphor for limitation and potential; a cell-like structure which creates pathways and boundaries. The work explores how individual voices survive and even thrive in a group, how we mask or hide from aspects of ourselves and bring conflicting sides into harmony, how we sometimes experience parts of ourselves being ripped away, and how our deep desire to move beyond our personal borders, at great risk, survives.
Choreography: Melissa Monteros
Collaborator: Wojciech Mochniej
Scenic Design and Video: Wojciech Mochniej
Light Design: Steve Isom
Costume: Tracy Murray
Music: Timeless composed by Scott Godin and played by Graheme Tofflemire, Solitude composed by Scott Edward Godin, Triple Riffing composed by Timothy Brady and (at Dancers’ Studio West) played by Jeremy Brown, Theresa Lane, Deanna Oye
Dancers: Lauren Cote, Laura Henley, Rufino Rodriguez, Miku Tsuchiya, Serenella Argueta

2010

Here to Stay
"A poetic statement on the behalf of oceans". Collaborating with Finnish artists Pirjo Yli-Maunula and Jukka Huitila, Monteros and Mochniej joined forces with that duo to create a highly sensory world built around the theme of the sea; its influence on their lives and their travels across it. From the warm seas of the Pacific to the cold seas of the North, these collaborators invited individual artists from France, Mexico, Finland and Canada to join them in an exploration of the dangers and beauty of this natural force.
Choreography and Performance: Melissa Monteros, Wojciech Mochniej, Pirjo Yli-Maunula, Jukka Huitila

Guest Performers: Ghislain Carosio, Henna Holma (Finland) or Natalie Poissant (Canada)

Costume Design: Pirjo Valinen 

Costume construction: Maija Mattiina Pihlaja, Heidi Kesti 

Light and Sound design: Jukka Huitila

Graphic design: Tomi Hurskainen

Photos: Pekka Mäkinen (Finland), Aaron McCullough (Canada)

Production: Flow Productions (Finland), W&M Physical Theatre (Canada)

Partners: Compagnie Itinerrances (France), Delfos Danza Contemporanéa (Mexico), Hurtownia Ruchu Studio Tanca (Poland), Culture Centre Valve (Finland), JoJo-Oulu Dance Centre (Finland) 

Premiere: (Finland) Culture Centre Valve, Oulu, Finland October 9-16, 2010; 
(Canada) High Performance Rodeo, Vertigo Theatre January 19-21, 2012 
This work was supported by: Finnish Cultural Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, Alberta Foundation for the Arts

SKINS: Bodies for Sale
Choreography: Wojciech Mochniej
Artistic Collaborator & Rehearsal Director: Melissa Monteros
Soundscape: Wojciech Mochniej with use of samples by: Mofongo, STAC, Morgan Pacard, Trapist, fILT, SporadicE
Performers: Wojciech Mochniej, Basia Czajkowska, Lisa Hering, Kelly McCann
Lighting and Stage Design Concept: Wojciech Mochniej
Original Light Design: Tim Koll
Technical Director: Brian MacNeil

Triangular Theories of Love
Choreographed by Monteros, Wojciech enjoyed his role and its evolution, first as collaborator and then as a performer. He worked again with Kris Demeanor, whom he met and first worked with as a member of the Resident Company of Artists at Theatre Junction Grand. Triangular Theories of Love takes a tongue in cheek look at long term love.
Choreography: Melissa Monteros
Collaborators: Wojciech Mochniej, Kris Demeanor
Video: Wojciech Mochniej
Cast: Ghislain Carosio, Michael Cros, Maya Lewandowsky, Wojciech Mochniej, Natalie Poissant, Natalia Babanova, Chelsey Higdon, Jared Herring
On Screen Performance: Kris Demeanor
Music: Compilation by Wojciech Mochniej with music by Taylor Deupree, Matmos, Juliette Greko, Dead Eros, Hazard, Shuttle 358, Haruka Nakamura, Alva Noto, Frank Bretschneider, Signal, Pogo

2007

Just Po Prostu: the Story of Two
Just Po Prostu has been performed in at least six cities in Poland, Finland and Canada. It is a choreographic work which explores a play on values, the condition of human existence, and the status of our framed relationships. The vocabulary is a selection of seeds from past works; moments which still resonate within and act as sources of inspiration to open new doors. It is not strictly a linear narrative but a collection of glimpses from the lives of two people.   Multiple performances and some changes in cast and format have allowed the work to grow and deepen. The title is a mix of English and Polish. In our personal and professional lives, as we mix language and culture fluidly to try to express and understand each other, it seemed natural to include this mix in our work. “Just” (of course) is English. “Po Prostu” is Polish and can mean "straight" (to the point) or "because". So, "Just Straight" or "Just  Because". The choice is yours.

2004

Made in Polska – museum of imagination
The brainchild of Wojciech Mochniej, Made in Polska is a dance theatre work that reveals, celebrates and investigates the culture that launched his career.  It is a work of fluidity and intimacy; a sensitive, humorous and sometimes disturbing portrait of each man's journey into adulthood. Within the work the significance of three comes into play: three decades, three life episodes, three within one man-father, brother, son. Made in Polska is a unique meeting of two male dancers, explores the sterotypes attributed to men and to male dancers. It has been presented in Calgary, Canada, in Warsaw, Krakow, Kalisz, Bytom, Poznan, Poland, and in Kaunas, Lithuania.
Artistic Director: Melissa Monteros
Concept and Choreography: Wojciech Mochniej
Collaborator: Tomasz Wygoda
Performers: Wojciech Mochniej and Tomasz Wygoda
Sound Design: Wojciech Mochniej with excerpts and samples from Rafal Detkos, Adam Kielsznia, Tomaz Grom, Art Beats, Ambient Sound, Czeslaw Niemen, Krzysztof Krawczyk
Costume: Quinn McCrimmon
Lighting Design: Steve Isom

2002

Cells
Cells was a 2 part work; the first section called Frames was the opening duet of the larger work. "Cele" in Polish means ‘Cells’, and has a similar meaning in both languages, but in Polish it can also mean a goal. We were interested in this relationship...a prison that is not a prison, a goal that becomes a prison.
Choreography : Melissa Monteros and Wojciech Mochniej
Performance: Melissa Monteros and Wojciech Mochniej, Alana K. Jones, Iris Heitzinger, Johannes Randolf
Light Design: Steve Isom

2001

333
Choreography and Performance: Wojciech Mochniej
Sound Design: Sean Gamble and Wojciech Mochniej

1994

Bone Songs 
Bone Songs is a work in two acts; the first, Whispers, and the second, The Return. The title came from our sense that our histories are deep in our bones; that all the stories of our ancestors are stored in our DNA and resonate in us. Physically and choreographically, it was one of our (Monteros and I) first very deep explorations of this idea of the grotesque leading us into the beautiful.
Choreography and Performance: Melissa Monteros and Wojciech Mochniej
Light Design: Jari Haavikko
Special Acknowledgement: Eija and Jari Haavikko for designing our first set.

Borders 
Borders was the first choreographic collaboration between Melissa Monteros and Wojtiech Mochniej. It was essentially, my first choreography. The subject was borders of many kinds; between nations, religions, humans, and the violence that results when these invisible boundaries are confronted. It premiered in Bytom, Poland at the first International Conference of Contemporary Dance. Between 1994 and '97 they performed it many times in 5 different countries. They remounted it for its 10th anniversary in 2004 for Dance Explosions, Calgary.
Choreography and Performance: Melissa Monteros and Wojciech Mochniej
Music: George Crumb, Dimitri Shostokovich, Istvaan Marta
Light Design: Steve Isom

Selected Mainstage Dance Works
Day After Yesterday, White, Intercepted, Silent Water, Absurdities, Oh

Like Knowing Cinnamon Before the Taste

Choreographer: Erin O'Connor

Dancers: Melissa Monteros and Wojciech Mochniej

Music: Paul Giger

Movement generated by artistic collaboration

Dance On Film

2010

Skins: Bodies for Sale
Concept: Melissa Monteros
Producer: Melissa Monteros
Director: Melissa Monteros
Camera: Wojciech Mochniej
Camera 2: Melissa Monteros
Editing: Wojciech Mochniej
Performers: Natalia Babanova, Laura Henley, Chelsey Higdon, Miku Tsuchiya

2008

Just Po Prostu
The video of Just Po Prostu is a 33 minute work for the screen. It follows a woman and man through their troubled relationship and finds them struggling to reconnect. We created a dual role for the woman. Her alter ego speaks to her through the magic of the camera and editing room. The project was a fantastic experience and the enthusiasm and commitment of all the artists and technicians involved speaks to whole group's belief in the quality of the work we were creating together.
Executive Producer: Melissa Monteros
Producer: Melissa Monteros in association with Film Polska, Alvernia Studios & karma 2000
Associate Producer: Krzysztof Solek
Directed by Kenneth Sherman in collaboration with Melissa Monteros and Wojciech Mochniej
Choreography by Melissa Monteros and Wojciech Mochniej based on the stage version Just Po Prostu by Wojciech Mochniej and Melissa Monteros
Performed by Wojtek Mochniej and Barbara Czajkowska
Editor: Kenneth Sherman
Associate Editor: Wojciech Mochniej
Music: Aleksandra Bilinska
First Assistant Director: Krzysztof Solek
Director of Photography: Pawel Labe
Art Director: Lukasz Trzcinski
1st Camera: Pawel Labe
2nd Camera: Kenneth Sherman
3rd Camera: Melissa Monteros
Gaffer: Bartosz Gocal
Key Grip: Bartek Szoja
Production Assistant: Magda Ludwig
Rehearsal Director: Melissa Monteros

2000

Journey
Camera: JP Passi
Edit: Tapani Launonen
Performance: Melissa Monteros and Wojciech Mochniej
Actual duration: 7 minutes
Journey was created by Tapani Launonen and J-P Pasi, and was part of a collaborative project that was inspired by the duo's collaborative discussions with Monteros and Mochniej.

Teaching

In Poland, the country where I grew up and trained, art is a place for the Truth; a place to risk and search, and the university the place to strive for excellence. We do not simply move our bodies in space without thought or meaning; we engage with our environment, our culture, politics, and use the body as theatre to comment on the world around us.

In this way, the body is political, and our study as artists requires us to engage with history, philosophy, politics, and to become agents of social change. Learning to become skilled in improvisation and choreography requires observation, reflection and response, then the accumulation of ideas into a cohesive whole. Learning to become a skilled dance artist requires investment in self-knowledge, critical thinking, discipline, analysis and synthesis of information, the ability to work independently and with others. These skills are transferrable to many other areas of life. All of this; the relationship of the artist to society, of the university as a place that develops a global citizen, of understanding the rigour and responsibility devotion to an art form requires, these are things I hope to share with and instil in students.

Growing up and training (in Poland) there was tremendous competition for each place to enter the university. Only the top percentage were able to enter and study for free. I love the wealth of opportunities we experience in Canada, and the pioneering spirit which is so strong and beautiful. I want to instil in our students a deep appreciation for the privilege to study dance at the University of Calgary; to have so many teachers available to them, so many classes, studios and so much diversity in their study. To recognize that this is their time grab hold of what is offered and to really fly.

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