Scope and Content
Title: Michio Ito collection
Identifier/Call Number: CEMA 25
UC Santa Barbara Library, Department of Special Collections
Language of Material:
9.0 linear feet
(8 document boxes and 1 oversize box)
Date (inclusive): 1911-1980
Michio Ito was a concert dancer and choreographer from Japan. This collection consists of numerous photos, magazines, articles,
posters and books about his dances and choreography. The collection also consists of programs from his dance concerts, his
own personal notes, and diagrams of his dances, as well as films and audio recordings used for film production. The bulk of
the material is related to the writing of the book
Michio Ito: The Dancer and His Dances
by Helen Caldwell.
Language of Materials:
The collection is in English.
Michio Ito (ca. 1892-1961) was a Japanese concert dancer and choreographer. Ito might have studied traditional dance and theater
in Japan before he left for Paris in 1911 and after training in Paris, he went on to study dance in Egypt. Then in 1912, he
enrolled at the Émile Jaques-Dalcroze school in Hellerau, Germany. Ito later moved to London, where under the sponsorship
of Lady Ottoline Morrel, he began to perform solo works. He made his professional debut as a recital dancer in May 1915. After
his debut, he gave a series of concerts in London which culminated in his choreography and performance of
At the Hawk's Well by William Butler Yeats, at a private performance.
Ito emigrated to the United States in 1916 where he remained until 1941. He spent most of his time in America choreographing
for his own company. During his time in America, he spent most of it divided between New York and on the West Coast. During
his New York period, he staged several plays for innovative theater groups that included
Bushido for the Washington Square Players (1916),
Tamura (1918) and
Nuages et Fêtes(1929) for the Neighborhood Playhouse, and
Turandot (1929) for the Habima Players.
In Los Angeles Ito staged plays in Japanese for the Tokujiro Tautsui Company of Players and the Japanese Children's Theatre
and he also had symphonic groups concerts at the Rose and Hollywood Bowls. He is frequently said to have staged many Oriental
dance sequences in early sound-era films, although only two such credits can be verified, most notably, his work as a technical
advisor on the 1933 verison of
Madame Butterfly (Paramount). Ito also appeared in at least one addition Paramount film,
BooLoo (1938), in which he portrayed an African tribal chieftan.
Ito was deported from the United States in 1941 and he returned to Tokyo where he established a school. He then went on to
produce Prologs for Japanese movie-house chains and after 1946, he staged shows for the Fifth Air Force (Occupation Army).
Ito was involved in television production before his death in 1961, but it cannot be determined whether he staged dances for
variety shows or worked in a technical or production capacity. His school and company in Tokyo was managed by his former student,
Ryuko Maki and remained functioning until 1976.
Over the last few years, Ito's work and choreographic theories have had a revival in the United States, which were primarily
sponsored by Maki and her student, Satoru Shimazaki, a Japanese choreographer who worked in New York. Shimazaki has given
recitals consisting of Ito's reconstructed works and included Ito's piece in concerts of his own company and repertory. Shimazaki
also had demostrations of Ito's chereographic vocabulary, which were a limited selection of movements that he manipulated
into his characterizational and abstract works. His theroies will probably become the subject of more discussion and will
take their place with those of his contemporaries that are possibly dated, but very recognizable for their period and Dalcroze
Reference: Cohen-Stratyner, Barbara Naomi. 1982.
Biographical dictionary of dance. New York: Schirmer Books.
Service copies of audiovisual items may need to be made before viewing or listening. Please consult Special Collections staff
for further information.
Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or
quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given
on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply
permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.
Donated by Helen Caldwell, 1992.
[Identification of Item], Michio Ito collection, CEMA 025. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University
of California, Santa Barbara.
Scope and Content
The Michio Ito Collection contains Ito's personal notes and biographical research about Ito done by Helen Caldwell. The collection
is divided into six series spanning 9 boxes. The bulk of the collection consists of articles, programs, and publications about
Ito's career. Also included are Ito's personal notes, dance diagrams, films, and audio recordings. Altogether, the collection
provides an insight into Ito's creative and professional life as a dancer and choreographer.
Processed by Callie Bowdish, Janet Chen, and Suzanne Im, 2013.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Itō, Michio, 1893-1961
Choreographers -- Japan
Dancers -- Japan
Japanese -- California -- Los Angeles
Japanese -- United States