We had the good fortune of connecting with Chisato Iimori and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chisato, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Many people think taking risks is scary, however risks are “chances”; to grow, to be a new version of yourself, to succeed or break out of your shell to be true yourself. I think it’s important to take risks especially if you have goals or want to succeed. Nothing will change if you stay in your comfort zone. I’m a dancer and choreographer, and risk taking is always what I try to do when I dance. I move my body in different ways to explore when I do freestyle and try to use my body beyond what I already know. As a choreographer, I challenge myself to not use the same choreography, and put beats, melody and lyric in movements to make songs visible and interesting. For me, risk taking is necessity to explore creativity and my body movement. When it comes to my life, my challenge/risk was deciding to move to LA by myself even though I had no support and no connection there. I didn’t think that was “risk” at that time to be honest. I just didn’t want to regret it. My fear is not failure. It’s a regret for what I didn’t even try. That’s why I quit job hunting and decided to be a professional dancer in the U.S. Though that was not an easy decision first, I’m happy for what I am today. Risk is terrifying sometimes, however it leads you to find who you really are and gives you knowledge. No one is you and you’re the one who can change the story of your book. You just have to fully believe in yourself.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m proud of that I’m adventurous. I go anywhere and do anything by myself if I really interested in. haha My passion and eager for growth always motivate to me to challenge myself and learn new things. As a dancer, working for Ayumi Hamasaki, who is the one of the most famous artists in Japan was the one I ‘m most proud of. Performing in front of tones of audience and pen lights were unforgettable experience in my career. Being on tours and performing on a big stage are always what I’m excited about and what I’m training for. But I recently focus on my creativity, so I’m also excited about creating something new, working with artists and making music more visible. I think dance has power to make music more powerful and make people moved. Songs are made with various of beats, melody, lyric and feelings of the artists, so expressing them and tell the story through my dancing is what I’m trying to do.
I started jazz and ballet when I was a little, and majority of my childhood was spent in a studio in Tokyo. I’ve loved dancing and making the audience happy by my performance. At the age of 12, I got a first prize at JDA (Jazz dance art) dance competition in Japan. When I was 16 years old, my mother suggested me go to LA, so I went there by myself for the first time and took many classes for a few weeks. That was great time. However, when I was 17, I gave up my dream and stopped training professionally once. During the time of my university, I encountered street dance such as hip hop and house, and I started dancing again just for fun. Though there was always choreography during my jazz dance era, this period made me have chances to be creative such as choreographing for showcase and doing freestyle. Since then, I have trained hip hop, heels, jazz regardless of dance styles and tried new styles too. My turning point was 2017 when I studied abroad in the U.S. It was my first time to live completely without dancing, and that life made me realize how much love I have for dance. Dance is not the only way to enjoy but the way to relief myself and get energy from. I also notice that I couldn’t give up fully because I didn’t even challenge, and learned how important it is to live true to myself. Then I decided to switch my dance career as a professional and go to LA again.
As my dance career, I took my first big audition in Japan in 2018 before going to LA, and passed it fortunately. So, I worked with Ayumi Hamasaki, who is the one of the most famous artists in Japan. Also, I worked as an assistant choreographer for Lee Hong Gi solo tour.
I moved to LA after I graduated university. I had no fear, and I was filled with excitement for my new journey although I had no connection there. Being surrounded by amazing people who have their own uniqueness and ambition and people who are supportive was such a good energy and motivation to me to pursuing my dream. Especially, they made me explore myself, my musicality and creativity. Until January of this year, I had trained with Cameron Lee, Kiira Harper, Boyboi and other amazing choreographers. Even though covid happened, my life in LA and every single person changed me and improve me more than I imagined. For me, this pandemic gave me lots of opportunities to be better such as seeking who I really am, exploring my creativity and learning from people who I’ve never met by online.
My journey was not easy! But I just kept going and did again and again until I get it. I always think about what I can do now to be better than myself yesterday. Doing stretch after taking a shower is my night routine and what I’ve never skipped since I was 10. haha Constancy is always my belief to achieve goals. What I would say is “no matter how small it is and no matter how many people support you, keep doing it”.
Through my journey, there are two things I learned: one is just do it and challenge yourself before deciding to give up, and another is being honest to yourself and believe yourself. Every decision is made by you and up to you. If you don’t like it, change it. No one is you. You know yourself most.
I’m a dancer. I’m a choreographer. I do any kind of dance styles such as hip hop, Jazz and heels. But I don’t want to label myself and would like to keep myself unlimited. I would say I’m an entertainer. haha My life goal is to inspire people and change someone’s life in a good way. So, I hope I make someone moved though my art, and I am the reason for someone who needs to push their first step of their dream.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
In Los Angeles, I would take my friend to Venice canals which is one of the cutest spots in LA. Eat ice cream at “Salt & Straw”, which is my favorite ice cream shop at Abbot Kinney. Then walk by the beach listening to good music, lay down and chill on the beach and see the sunset.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I luckily have many amazing friends and people who I’m thankful for. Number one is my family. If my mother didn’t take me dance classes at that time, I wouldn’t have even started dancing. Cameron Lee is my mentor, and the one who pushes me forward and supports me. He gave me amazing training with different kinds of dance styles and lot of knowledge to be a professional. I couldn’t be where I am today without him. People in his mentorship are so supportive and inspire me, and I think my life in LA would have been completely different if I haven’t met them. I shoutout to all of them who I met.
Alissa Rose Borough Mimee photography