As a public health precaution due to COVID-19, all Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are temporarily closed to the public as of Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. We are not announcing a reopening date at this time.
Growing up in Japan, Michio Ito was trained in traditional Noh theater. When he traveled to Paris in 1911 and saw both Isadora Duncan and Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, his interest in dance was sparked.
By 1916 he was creating choreography that combined Eastern techniques with Western movement, music, lighting, and costuming. He immigrated to New York and eventually formed a troupe of six dancers that toured the country. Landing in Hollywood in 1929, he created “symphonic choreographies” that were performed in such outdoor spaces as the Hollywood Bowl; he also contributed to six movies, including Madame Butterfly (1933).
After Pearl Harbor was bombed, Ito was interned in New Mexico until 1943, when he repatriated to Japan as part of a prisoner exchange. After the war, he choreographed revues for American occupation troops at the Ernie Pyle Theatre in Tokyo.