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Ida inspired by honour
Throughout our lives we make various plans.
We plan our career paths, when we want to have a family, and where we want to live.
But even the best laid plans — for better or worse — often become derailed.
Local dancer and Nelson’s Cultural Ambassador for 2012 Hiromoto Ida never planned to come to the West Kootenay, but he said it’s often the unexpected that seeps in and influences our future.
“I think it was in 1995,” said Ida with a strong Japanese accent. “I was with a dance company and we did a tour and came to New Denver. We did a little show and we taught the kids. I’d never been to this area at this time, but something happened while I was here.”
Ida said he looked back at a diary entry he’d made at the time and said it was obvious there was something special for him in the Kootenays.
“Something here hit me,” he said.
The experience of working with the children in New Denver also planted a new seed for Ida.
Previously he’d been so focused on his career on stage that he had never thought of having a family.
“Somehow when I came to New Denver, when I was working those little kids, I thought ‘Oh maybe I do want to have kids.’ It’s all those little side things coming in and changing our plans,” he said.
Ida originally studied drama and performance in Tokyo before moving to Vancouver in 1987.
Growing up in Japan, he said that he was just a regular child but remembers the first time being on stage and enjoying the experience.
“I was doing a Christmas show in Grade 6 with my class. I had two other friends and we did a little comedy skit,” said Ida. “I did Sammy Davis Jr. at that time he was in a big TV commercial in Japan selling whiskey. I put on black face make up and we rehearsed outside in the park even though it was so cold. That was fun. That was the first time I remember thinking ‘Oh this is fun.’”
It wasn’t until high school that Ida began pursuing the arts again.
He started making films the hard way.
“We worked so hard the whole summer. Editing the tape and cutting things. It was in high school where I started pursuing performance,” he said.
Ida confessed that he still doesn’t really feel like a dancer, he identifies more as an actor.
Ida starred in his film debut in 1994 as the lead in the movie Tokyo Cowboy, which won the People’s Choice Award at the Vancouver International Film Festival.
Despite a bit of dance in college, it wasn’t until he came to Canada that he began dancing.
“A few weeks [after moving] I met somebody at the Karen Jamieson Dance Company who said that they needed some male performers,” said Ida. “I said, ‘I am not a dancer,’ and they said they needed a performer more than just a dancer.”
After meeting Karen Jamieson, Ida was hired and he began what he describes as “crazy dance training.”
“There was ballet and modern class. Basically I was just following everybody else. I’m good at just following others,” he said with a laugh. “I always liked dance somehow, but I was more focused on theatre.”
Even though Ida enjoyed dance, he struggled with it at first.
He kept looking for meaning behind the various movements and often found himself asking ‘why?’
“They said ‘No, Hiro don’t worry. Just move first. Keep moving, moving, moving without thinking anything.’ It looks like most dancers are moving without thinking anything. But then after a while of doing what they told me, I decided to start making an inner story that worked with the movement. It was kind of like a dream,” he said.
Since moving to Nelson, Ida began creating new pieces under his own company Ichigo-Ichieh Dance.
His works like Please Dad, Sentak, Kessa and The Gift have all been performed at international dance festivals.
Ida said being chosen as the City’s Cultural Ambassador has inspired him to start new projects.
“This business is a bit of a rollercoaster. When you finish a piece it’s like a funeral, and then you start on a new project and you have to ask for money and the cycle continues,” said Ida.
Unlike big urban areas which have a variety of performing arts events to inspire artists like Ida, Nelson doesn’t often have large contemporary dance performances.
“It’s hard to keep inspired, without that source of dance performance,” he said. “I don’t know if age matters but when I was in my 20s I was very focused and driven, but now that I’m older I see my life with my family and I just have a different perspective. But now that I have this title I feel like I have to do something.”