The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Artist Interview
Inside the mind of Shigehiro Ide, a unique talent of the contemporary dance world

IDEVIAN (1995)   ©days

Coppelia (1999)   ©days

Fuicchi (Discord) (2000)   ©days
What kind of choreography did you do in those two years? What kinds of works did you do?
We were performing once a month, so I made a lot of works during that time. One of those was the Idebbean piece. It was a strangely choreographed piece that really went over well for some reason. Really got into choreographing that piece and the experience made me want to try to create more works. It had been a play on Caribbean dance and in one sense, that work started me on a direction that you might call parody. For example, it happened to be the time of the Lillehammer Winter Olympics, so I did a work called Idehammer, and Pina Bausch was popular at the time, so I did an Ide Bausch piece, too. There was an Idelliam Forsythe and an Ide Kylian. I just put Ide on everything (laughs). But, it wasn’t just out of playfulness or parody. I wanted to use those names also because they weren’t well enough known in Japan at the time. Some students might get free group tickets from the school to things like a Pina [Bausch] performance in Tokyo but they wouldn’t even go to see it. I thought that was a waste, so I would get the extra tickets and go to see all the performances I could.
From that time, I was doing mostly choreography and I wouldn’t perform [as a dancer] in the works myself. You might say that I wasn’t really interested in doing the dancing itself. I would dance hard and seriously in class, and I think I did well—and was about 10 kg lighter than I am now. But at the same time, I was in a position of leadership, where I had to hold get the performances together for a number of different groups of students. To tell the truth, I often just didn’t have the energy left over to take part as a dancer, too.

Having to choreograph a piece a month is certainly not an easy thing to do. Considering the fact that, unlike just doing the dancing, you have to be aware of the entire picture, from the space to the music and the overall concept.
We had a large studio with simple lighting capabilities, but in the end it was just studio performances for our own [school] audience. Every month we would have a different teacher, like there was a “Performing Arts” class and the teacher would introduce us to a new method and then say, “Now you [students] try doing the choreography.” That was the kind of classes we had, and although our performances were not given for the public, there were some that I think were good enough to have held before a public audience.
Perhaps it is fate that I ended up in such an environment, but in time the teachers would be saying, “… and in this part, why don’t we add some of your strange Ide movement to the choreography.” So, then I would be consulting with them on how to do that. It became a weird environment where sometimes I didn’t know if I was a student or an advisor. And, since I was doing choreography for the other dancers like that almost from the beginning, I guess I got used to choreographing. I think I liked the directing aspect from early on. In the end I completed the full two-year course of study, and I think that is something that doesn’t happen unless you enjoy going to class every day and experiencing a lot of things.

When you graduated, did you think that you wanted to continue in dance as a career?
My parents asked me what I was going to do after I graduated and I decided that I would stay on in Tokyo and continue dance for a while, supporting myself with part-time jobs. After I graduated, the school asked me to come in from time to time as a substitute instructor. I can’t remember now what I taught, though.
Besides that, I started taking lessons that appealed to me, like those at the dance studio of Asako Ogawa and other former graduates of our school that I heard about. I also danced in special performances at the Kagurazaka Session House in Tokyo. I also happened to meet Ryohei Kondo just about the time I graduated. He was doing modern dance with a student circle at Waseda Univ. that I heard was interesting, so I went to see. I met him and we became friends, and after that I started dancing with the Waseda modern dance circle. It happens that Ryohei wasn’t originally from Waseda either. It turned out that just about that time an invitation came for us to perform at a university student dance festival being held in Germany, so we decided to go. It was Ryohei and me and about seven others and Sadayuki Hayashi of the Golgi Worx Company was the director.

Was that the first performance you danced in outside of school?
It was. It was my memorable first [public] performance. And, the fact that I was able to participate in this kind of performance right at the time of graduation gave me delusions that I would be able to continue dancing like that (laughs).
I haven’t said this yet, but for the first three years out of school I continued as a dancer like this. I would perform at special events when they came along, and during that period I began to compile a group of small works that I had choreographed.
At the time, there was sort of philanthropic program called “Dance Theater 21” that allowed dancers or groups to rent out the Kagurazaka Session House in Tokyo at a low price beginning at 9:00 at night, after regular theater hours. A plan came together to present a kind of omnibus of my works there. For that inaugural performance we changed our group name to IDEVIAN Crew on Friday the 13th of January 1995, and did a production of my work titled IDEVIAN.

Looking back, that work IDEVIAN certainly seems to contain a lot of the essence of the Ide style. And, for a debut work it was certainly one that involved a lot of dancers. How many people danced in that work?
It was 25 or 26 people, mostly fellow students from our school. And to tell the truth, the reason I decided to do this work was to put a period on my career in dance. I intended to quit dance completely after that production. It was like a graduation performance for our IDEVIAN group (formed in 1991) that had been together since our school days. So I wanted it to be a big commemorative production, after which I would call it quits. But, just after that, an invitation came for us to perform it again at the Arena Fes 95 in Erlangen, Germany. Although we had to pay our own way, we decided to go with the performance as an excuse for a trip to Europe. By that time I was beginning to feel, “Hey, this is making it harder and harder to quit!” (laughs)

Since then, you began introducing new works at a pace of about one or two a year, and four years after launching IDEVIAN Crew you put on a big production of Coppelia at the Setagaya Public Theatre.
I chose Coppelia because up until then I had always wanted to do a ballet work. The Park Tower Hall is more of a hall than a theater, but the Setagaya Public Theatre is a traditional proscenium theater, so I wanted to use it to do a large production in the classic sense. I had taken ballet lessons as a student and I liked Tchaikovsky.
The story of Coppelia is a rather simple one, but the music is great. I am not very good at working a storyline into my works anyway, so with this production I just wanted to enjoy moving to the music. When you listen to that kind of repetitive music, it can build a sense of fear. So, I thought things like, “Wouldn’t it be interesting if a dancer like Toru Iwashita came on stage at that point?” Although I say the story is rather simple, as long as we were to do a production of Coppelia I believed that we had to stick to the storyline. My image was that if we kept to a basic condensed version of the story, it would then be all right to concentrate on enjoying the dance element. Although the aim wasn’t gymnastic precision, I believe that the group dance sections were carefully choreographed. For that production we added three new members and we approached the work from a completely different direction from what we had done until then. Still, it didn’t take long for the choreography and composition to come together. Rather, we took more time to work out the non-dance aspects like how to use the music and the arrangement of its pieces.

The movement that came out in that work had a “dancy” nature but the movement you choreographed was very different from any movement of conventional modern dance. The formations that the dancers come onto stage and leave the stage with are very intricately composed. What I admire about your work is that no matter how well received a particular work might be, you never cling to that success but always do something completely different in your next work. The work Fuicchi (Discord) that you introduced in 2000 at the Park Tower Hall was again completely different in content.
I believed the great Nostradamus foretold that the world would be destroyed in 1999, and I believed that I would die then, too. I choreographed Discord as a memorial work for my own funeral. But 1999 came and went with no Armageddon, but we decided to go ahead with the funeral anyway. Also, I had always wanted to do a dance on tatami. So, for this work we covered the entire dance floor in tatami instead of linoleum. For the background we hung the black and white curtains they use for funerals in Japan, and all the dancers wore mourning black. Since it was my own funeral, I appeared too as one of the dancers. The message was “Let’s make this the end.” There was also something that intrigued me about the counseling term seikaku no fuicchi (discord of character [between people]) and I had always wanted to do a work with Discord as the title. So that title was decided from the beginning.
Another element of the background behind this work is that I had a strong desire to use Latin music. I have always liked Latin music. I want to listen to all the music I like, and if I am going to perform to it, I want the whole piece to be gone to a single type of music I like. But, when we tried it we found that doing the whole thing to Latin music was a bit strained, so we worked in a couple of sections of contemporary music. We also used and Astor Piazzolla tango piece.
| 1 | 2 | 3 |