Born in Tokyo in 1893, Michio Ito‘s family gave him a rich sense of Japanese tradition and also an openness to Western ideas. In 1911 he moved to Paris where he studied singing and was inspired by Vaslav Nijinsky and Isadora Duncan. Ito entered the Jaques-Dalcrose Institute at Hellerau, Germany in 1912 where he learned the 20 Dalcrose gestures that inspired the development of his technique.
At the outbreak of World War I, Ito fled to London where he was taken up by an elite circle of artists and began his career as a dancer. In 1916 he moved to New York where he spent the next twelve years continuing to develop his own dance technique. His eclectic study led him to develop an approach to dance that was a combination of both “Eastern” and “Western” art. Ito described Eastern art as spiritual and Western art as material. Both, he thought, were required to make perfect art.
In 1929 Ito moved to Los Angeles where he choreographed large symphonic works with hundreds of dancers in the Pasadena Rose Bowl and Hollywood Bowl. He also was director, scenic designer and/or choreographer for numerous theater productions and motion pictures.
Ito’s career in the United States came to an unfortunate end during World War II. Twenty four hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was sent to a Japanese internment camp and later chose repatriation to Japan as part of a prisoner exchange rather than continued imprisonment. After the war, the American Occupation command appointed him head choreographer of the US army run theatre in Tokyo where he supervised production for the American troops. He resided in Tokyo until his death in 1961.