The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Shigehiro Ide
IDE, Shigehiro
Shigehiro Ide is head of the dance company IDEVIAN Crew, which he founded in 1995 and has continued to give performances with both in Japan and abroad. His choreography is recognized for its combination of everyday gestures and movement that takes advantage of the individuality of the dancers involved plus the originality of the group dancing it employs. His works involve collaborations with artists from other fields, such as the contemporary artists Noboru Tsubaki and the musician ASA-CHANG.
Recently he has also won acclaim for his choreography for a large number of theater works and musicals, such as AMERIKA (directed by Osamu Matsumoto), Lulu (directed by Akira Shirai) and Letter from Claudia (directed by Tatsuo Kaneshita). In 2004, he was awarded the Outstanding Staff Award of the Yomiuri Theater Grand Prix awards.
ide solo
idésolo (2005)   ©days
an overview
Artist Interview Artist Interview
Inside the mind of Shigehiro Ide, a unique talent of the contemporary dance world 
For ten years since its founding the group IDEVIAN Crew has been a unique presence in the Japanese contemporary dance world. The group’s leader and choreographer, Shigehiro Ide, has continued to combine music, movement and space creation in works that bring unique interpretations to themes ranging from ballet to Japanese funerals. In recent years, Ide has expanded his activities outside the bounds of his own company’s productions, bringing his talents to collaborations with artists in other fields such as contemporary art, plays and musicals. In this interview we seek the sources of Ide’s great originality.
(Interviewer: Tatsuro Ishii)

To date, you have worked many productions, including collaboration works with people from the theater field. Having seen a lot of your choreography, it seems that there are many elements that are not what you would call dance-like. That fact makes us interested to know what led up to your entering the field of dance.
I grew up in the city of Takeo in Saga pref. in the south part of Japan that is famous for pottery. Nearby are the famous Arita and Imari pottery kilns. My father was a ceramics maker, and I guess that the fathers of one in every five or six families were either in ceramics or pottery. My father mostly made creative pottery and I remember playing around with the potter’s wheels when I was in elementary school. At the time I graduated from high school, we had a studio with a large gas kiln in our house, but later it was all torn down. It was too small a town to make a living with that kind of pottery.
My mother is a beautician. She helped my aunt who lived with us and ran a chain of beauty salons. There were also my two older sisters and salon helpers and interns who lived with us, so we were always an extended household of seven or eight women and just two men. My father is like a religious hermit who almost never speaks. So he was never a very father-like figure for me, and it was my aunt who ran everything in the household.

There are always a lot of female roles in the works you choreograph, and from what you have just said that might seem to be related somehow to the beauty salon. Is it that you always felt natural in an environment surround with women? Had you not yet begun dance at that time?
It was very strange how I got into dance. When I was a child, my eldest sister was studying Japanese traditional dance and my second sister was studying classical ballet. I was the only one who wasn’t studying anything. But my sisters often made me play the part of the partner when they practiced. In the evening after the salon was closed, they would move all the chairs aside and the salon’s mirrors would make it a natural dance studio. My sisters would always make me do the partner’s role, like when one of them was practicing to do an imitation of a pop music duo’s song and dance routine for a school festival or something. At that time, there was a band called Venus who had a popular song titled “Kiss Me on the Eyes” and all the girls would wear their hair in ponytails like the lead female vocal and imitated her sliding dance step. And they always made me be the male partner. Looking back, that beauty salon made a great dance studio.
When my second sister had her ballet lessons, I remember intentionally going to pick her up a bit early sometimes to watch the end of the practice. The girls all had leotards on and there were also men there and adults, so I remember wondering why I couldn’t do it, too. So I guess I began to get a desire to dance while watching my sisters studying Japanese dance and ballet.
And since my sisters and I were always dancing like that when I was in elementary school, people would naturally say, “Let’s have the Ide kids dance,” whenever there was a special event or festival. So, I would serve as my sisters’ partner when they gave a performance at something like a school recreation assembly. We would perform the dances just like we had practiced them in our beauty salon studio. That was how I learned to enjoy performing in front of people. The truth is that actually I am very shy by nature (laughs). So, in the course of it all I began to start thinking about what an audience would like or what would make a beautiful effect.
Our family also did a costume rental business, renting out things like kimono and other special costumes. That got me interested in costumes from an early age, too. When I use kimono in some of my works today, I still use our family’s rental goods sometimes. I wore a traditional Japanese woman’s wig in my recent piece idésolo production and it was also from my family’s shop collection.

So, although you never actually took dance lessons at a young age, you were always in a dance environment.
It was a beautician family where even most of our relatives were beauticians, so it was an environment where everyone expected that I would be a beautician, too. When I was growing up I felt that everyone hoped that I would be a star beautician and carry on the business. Perhaps it was partly that pressure that made me quit my beautician training soon after I graduated from high school and run off to Fukuoka where I just knocked around for a while with no real job.
Then I began to think that I would like to be a student again for a while, and I found out that there were vocational schools for dance in Tokyo. I didn’t even know such a school existed until then and I got the desire to go and see what it was like. I went to Tokyo and I entered the full-time dance course at the “Nihon Health and Sports Gakuin” in Shibuya. It was a school that had students in modern dance, jazz dance, ballet, etc. Among my upperclassmen were people like Kenshi Nomi. It was a rather exceptional school in some ways.

You studied dance formally for the first time there.
That’s right. It was the sort of course where you got an all-round exposure to all kinds of dance. We got full-fledged training in things like the Graham Technique. The first year was all required courses and from the second year you could start to take selective courses. At the time jazz dance and hip hop type dance were popular, but there was also a lot of modern dance and contemporary and classical ballet. There were times when I was forced to put on a leotard first thing in the morning and cry my way through ballet lessons. There were also lecture courses in the theory and history of dance. Then we would go on to jazz dance class and modern dance and English conversation and, for some reason, voice training, too. From Monday to Friday we were dancing every day from morning until evening. Our visiting lecturers included people like the ballet choreographer Tatsuo Mochizuki and the critic Roku Hasegawa as well as many foreign lecturers from places like the British Royal Ballet and Rosas.
What I thought interesting at the time was that there was a full month of summer vacation and as soon as vacation started after all that time of dancing all day, we would immediately put on weight. Not just me but all the women, everyone. Then, when we got back to school and on the same schedule again our weight would come back down within a month. It may have been partly because we were young, but the program was hard enough that we would lose as much as 10 kg in three or four weeks. And that is also why we would fall asleep during the classroom lectures. And again, it was an almost all-girl environment for me, with about 25 or 26 women and maybe one or two men. Some of the men also quit in the second year, so I can tell you that I stood out (laughs).
At the school we also had performance sessions once a month. For those we had to decide on titles for our works and names for our dance groups. We had a modern dance class with a foreign instructor and the performance I did in a Caribbean dance style went over well for some reason. After that the instructor told me, “Yours not Caribbean, yours Idebbean.” So I made our group name “IDEVIAN.”
Anyway, we really danced hard for those two years of dance school. I don’t mean to brag, but I did well in my grades, too. I was class representative in my second year and I became the leader of our graduation performance, so I was always in a position of leadership.

Then, did your classmates become the members of IDEVIAN?
Yes. Today, four or five of those original members remain with me. But, most of the people I graduated with eventually gave up dance and got married. I don’t think there are many who are still dancing today.
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