Mroz and Honeycutt Abstract, July 2017 Conference

Martial Partner Practice as Collaborative Artistic Research

Damon Honeycutt, M.F.A., M.A., Vermont College of Fine Arts, Montpellier, USA

Daniel Mroz, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Department of Theatre, University of Ottawa, Canada




The partner training exercises of the Chinese martial arts offer a unique matrix in which dance and theatre artists can develop physical and creative abilities. Damon Honeycutt and Daniel Mroz present a collaborative approach to martial partnering derived from Taijiquan Tuishou and Shuai Jiao. In this practical research, martial arts are conceived of as a meta-discipline that informs the development of novel aesthetics in the performing arts.


This presentation will also introduce a novel method for artistic research: originally proposed by performer Marije Nie, two artists use a single procedure to investigate their individual questions. Sharing a common research activity, each artist brings their own particular questions to the experience. In this instance, the sharing of martial partnering simultaneously allows the examination of the translational competence between art forms and expressive mediums as well as investigation of responsive physical play across a wide range of intensities from the subtle to the virtuosic.


Developing scholar F. David Peat’s concept of coming to knowing Honeycutt and Mroz – while presenting the development of a particular interdisciplinary practice of partnering across the martial and performing arts – address the fundamental question of the conference theme by proposing a way to share embodied, practical artistic knowledge that is both discursive and experiential.




We’d like to propose this presentation as a practical, parallel, hour-long workshop that advances a theoretical approach derived from practical, embodied research in the martial arts. We’ll be running a practical research session in Ottawa in March of 2017, where we’ll share our approach with a diverse group of movement artists and create a video document of the event. At the Cardiff conference, we propose to present our working methods, our questions and video excerpts of the fruition of the Ottawa session in tandem with introducing our practical material to the attendees, creating a discursive framework immediately related to a concrete embodied experience.




Damon Honeycutt is a warrior artist whose martial cultivation has allowed him to dance with companies such as Nai-Ni Chen, Scapegoat Garden and Pilobolus; he has performed and taught in over 20 countries. He holds an MFA in Music Composition from The Vermont College of Fine Arts, an MA in Conscious Evolution and Integral Studies from The Graduate Institute and a BFA from the California Institute of the Arts in Music and Cross-Cultural Dance Studies. His teachers include Paulie Zink, the inheritor of the Da Sheng Pigua Men; Hu Jian Qiang, twice all-around Wushu champion of the People’s Republic of China; and Beijing Opera performer Qi Jian Guo.


Daniel Mroz is a theatre director and martial artist. His recent performances have been presented at the Canada Dance Festival and the Évènement Zones Théâtrales. The Dancing Word his book on how to use the Chinese martial arts in contemporary theatre is published by Brills. A keynote speaker at the 2016 Martial Arts Studies Conference, he practices martial arts under Chen Zhonghua and studied acting and directing with Richard Fowler. He is Associate Professor in the Department of Theatre of the University of Ottawa in Canada where he teaches acting and directing.