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Joe Small ’05

Associate Professor

Department Chair, Dance



  2. Eugene M. and Theresa Lang Performing Arts Center 8
  3. Office Hours: By appointment.

Areas of Interest:

Taiko Drumming (Contemporary and Folk), Choreography and Percussion, Japanese dance and music forms, Asian American cultural practices, Postmodern contemporary dance.


Joe Small '05 (he/they) is a taiko drum artist whose creative work applies elements of postmodern choreography and performance art.  He lives in both Philadelphia and Osaka, Japan.

Joe's passion for taiko was sparked in 2002 as a first-year student Swarthmore College through his studies in contemporary dance and theatre. These experiences led him to receive formal instruction at the Taiko Center of the Pacific under Kenny and Chizuko Endo, Tamagawa University's performing arts department under Prof. Isaburoh Hanayagi, and through internships with San Jose Taiko (2004) and Portland Taiko (2005).

Since 2012 Joe has been involved in performance and educational activities throughout Japan and overseas as the sole non-Japanese disciple of pioneering solo artist Eitetsu Hayashi and member of his professional ensemble, Eitetsu Fu-Un no Kai -- including touring with them throughout in the summers of 2018 (Canada, USA) and 2019 (USA).

While based in Southern California from 2014-2017, Joe co-founded Small Mountain Studios with fellow taiko artist Isaku Kageyama, instructed at the LA Taiko Institute, and was a guest choreographer at Santa Monica College. Joe also performed in mixed-disciplinary works including Mishinnah Production's Iphigenia and the Book of Change (dance/theatre/puppetry/mixed-media), Tetsu Production's Batare (progressive rock-taiko-theatre), and LA-based The Industry’s production of Galileo (site-specific contemporary opera). In 2015, Joe debuted his first original evening-length work, Spall Fragments, which toured Los Angeles and San Francisco the following year.

Additional career highlights include a Fulbright Fellowship to Japan's National Museum of Ethnology to research taiko and local festivals (2005-2006), a two-year apprenticeship in taiko and related arts and cultural practices on Japan's Sado Island under the world-renowned taiko group, KODO (2007-2009), and touring activities as a member of Marco Lienhard’s NYC-based Taikoza (2009-) and the Sydney, Australia-based TaikOz (2015, 2017-2018, 2023-24 guest artist) -- including concerts at the Sydney Opera House (with Sydney Symphony Orchestra).

As a solo artist, Joe has performed and taught throughout the United States, as well as in Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Spain, Switzerland, and Japan.

Past cross-disciplinary performance collaborators have included Cameron McKinney (Kizuna Dance), Barry Brannum (contemporary dance), Chey Chankethya (Cambodian dance), Norihito Ishii (Butoh dance), Laurel Jenkins (contemporary dance), Lenny Seidman (tabla), and Josh Smith (shakuhachi flute).

Joe is a 2005 graduate of Swarthmore College (BA, Dance) and a 2015 graduate of UCLA's Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance (MFA, Dance).