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Michio Ito collection CEMA 25
CEMA 25  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Biography
  • Access Restrictions
  • Use Restrictions
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Scope and Content
  • Processing Information

  • Title: Michio Ito collection
    Identifier/Call Number: CEMA 25
    Contributing Institution: UC Santa Barbara Library, Department of Special Collections
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 9.0 linear feet (8 document boxes and 1 oversize box)
    Date (inclusive): 1911-1980
    Abstract: 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.
    Physical Location: Del Norte
    Language of Materials: The collection is in English.


    Michio Ito (ca. 1892-1961) was a Japanese concert dancer and choreographer. He left Japan for Paris in 1911. After training in Paris, he went on to study dance in Egypt. 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 and lived in Los Angeles from 1929 - 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 demonstrations of Ito's choreographic vocabulary, which were a limited selection of movements that he manipulated into his characterizational and abstract works. His theories 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 influence.
    Reference: Cohen-Stratyner, Barbara Naomi. 1982. Biographical dictionary of dance. New York: Schirmer Books.

    Access Restrictions

    Service copies of audiovisual items may need to be made before viewing or listening. Please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

    Use Restrictions

    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.

    Acquisition Information

    Donated by Helen Caldwell, 1992.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of Item], Michio Ito collection, CEMA 25. 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.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Callie Bowdish, Janet Chen, and Suzanne Im, 2013.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Itō, Michio, 1893-1961
    Japanese--California--Los Angeles
    Japanese--United States