Spall Fragments

Yeeman participated in the project of Spall Fragments (directed by Joe Small) in Spring 2015. The first showing of Spall Fragments was in April 11, 2015 in UCLA Glorya Kaufman Hall. Yeeman was one of the main cast and also composed a new piece titled “Gliding Dreams” debuted in the concert. Joe and Yeeman have been working on a new series of Spall Fragments showing in the west coast and possibly in Asia. Stay tuned for future updates!

Spall Fragments 5min Promo resync from Yeeman Mui on Vimeo.

4/11/2015 (Saturday) UCLA Glorya Kaufman Hall

Spall Fragments:
Choreographer/Composer – Joe Small
Cast – Joe Small, Barry Brannum, Bevin Chan, Young Kang, Yeeman ‘Manman’ Mui, David Wells
Faculty Committee – Dan Froot, Janet O’Shea, Cheng-Chieh Yu
Lighting Designer – Arsenio Arpillanes
(From the website of the Kurayami Festival in Fuchu City, Tokyo).

Program Notes:
About the title, ‘Spall’ refers to the breaking of an object into smaller pieces through sustained friction or sudden collision. With such an image in mind, Spall Fragments meditates on the cause and effects of aggression-driven aspects and traits stemming out of American and Japanese masculine cultures and the physical and mental trauma therein. In doing so, Spall Fragments intends to send shrapnel out into taiko’s historically Japanese and masculine contexts as well as its globalized, transnational present.
There are many ways to consider the words ‘Fragments’ in the work, and I will offer one – as a taiko apprentice for professional artists in Japan, I underwent a physical and mental fracturing of my culturally ‘American’ self to engage with forms considered intrinsically ‘Japanese’. Under years-long periods of ascetic-like training that demanded unwavering dedication to idealized cultural values and bodily practices; I negotiated a dangerous and preposterously surreal contradiction: a ‘fragmented’ insider/outsider status demanding the erasure of the American bodymind identity (Chinese/Jewish-American) for a Japanese one. As additional irony, the cultural and socioeconomic upbringing, nationality, gender, and body-type that had granted me opportunities and access to pursue taiko professionally also served as proof of a lack of competence for my peers and superiors.
Spall Fragments was created over a six month period at UCLA, although the concepts for the work stem from the accumulation of journeys between the United States and Japan over the past thirteen years. While my name is listed as ‘choreographer/composer’, the cast has had tremendous input into the creation of the pieces and their efforts must be credited. Much of the material is wholly ‘original’, however, please note that much of it takes basis or influence in folk, classical, or contemporary performing arts of Japan (and elsewhere). As a means of de-mystifying the process and also acknowledging their base (to acknowledge where something comes from is high on the list of etiquette in the taiko community), I have included some minor notes in the credits. Thank you sincerely for attending tonight’s performance. -Joe Small
‘Fat Drum’ in the Japanese language.
A means to invoke and evoke spirits/gods and natural phenomena,
Call for war or peace or somewhere in between … take your pick.
Small or large, they are LOUD. Or get there if you let ‘em.
A time-honored tradition spanning back however many generations you find necessary.
A neo-folk tradition – because we said so.
A wholly contemporary art with Japanese roots.
A global art form with Japanese roots…possibly uprooted?
A means to remember, empower, or assert identity (collective, cultural, gender, sexual, personal …)
Something that only Japanese can do.
Something that only Everyone – including You, can do.
Spall Fragments is supported in part by funding through the UCLA’s The Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance (, and is presented through its MFA Upstart Series as the culminating project to fulfill Joe Small’s MFA degree in Dance. Spall Fragments is also supported generously through the donated use of professional-grade taiko drums, stands, and assorted instruments from Asano Taiko US (, the American branch of Asano Taiko Company Limited based in Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan – traditional handcrafters of Japanese drums and festival instruments since 1609. Additional funding came through individual supporters via the “Spall Fragments” GoFundMe campaign.