Itō, Michio (1893–1961) By Rodman, Tara
Michio Itō was a modern dancer and choreographer who worked in Europe, the United States, and Japan. After training at the Dalcroze Institute in Hellerau, Itō collaborated with Ezra Pound and W.B. Yeats on the 1916 dance drama, At the Hawk’s Well. In New York City, Itō performed at the Neighborhood Playhouse and the Greenwich Village Theatre, and taught and worked with U.S. modern dancers, including Martha Graham, Charles Weidman, Pauline Koner, Ruth St. Denis, and Lester Horton. Itō moved to Los Angeles in 1929, where he worked in film and choreographed dance symphonies for the Hollywood and Pasadena Rose Bowls. Following the events at Pearl Harbor Itō was interned, and repatriated to Tokyo in 1943. When the war ended he became head choreographer of the Ernie Pyle Theatre in Tokyo, creating productions for the occupying troops. Itō developed his own modern dance technique, the Itō Method, which adapted Dalcroze movement exercises into a style that he described as a fusion of ‘‘East’’ and ‘‘West.’’ Itō’s intercultural approach and ability to move between elite and commercial projects allowed him to cross different streams of modernism—German eurhythmics, British poetic drama, U.S. modern dance, and the Americanization of postwar culture in Japan.