100 Creatives 2013: Shohei Iwahama, Dancer

Photo by Simon Gentry
Shohei Iwahama, member of Hope Stone Dance Company.

If you watch dance in Houston, then you've seen the grace and elegance that is Shohei Iwahama. The first time we saw the Hope Stone and NobleMotion company member was at the 2010 Weekend of Texas Contemporary Dance at the Miller Outdoor Theatre. He performed in Andy Noble's exuberant "KinkyKool Fan Blowing Hard," easily one of the most memorable dance pieces that came out of that season. His fluidity of movement and keen sense of musicality made him a standout in the ensemble cast, and we've been enthusiastically watching ever since.

Born and raised in Japan, dance has been a part of Shohei's life since before he could remember. "My older sisters used to do modern dance, so I grew up seeing them perform," he says. "I also went to the dance studio when I was three or four years old, but I didn't take it seriously back then." It wasn't until he saw one of his junior high classmates perform ballet that he decided to focus on dance. Time in the ballet studio eventually led him to Miyako Kato Dance Academy where his sisters used to study.

After performing with Kato's company, Shohei studied in New York City at The Ailey School under a one-year grant from the Agency of Cultural Affairs of Japan. He continued his training at Sam Houston State University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance. Since then, he's made Houston his home and professional playground.

As far as the local dance scene is concerned, it offers him a chance to work with a varied roster of choreographers. "Houston allows us dancers to have many different opportunities and experiences with many different companies at the same time," he explains. Whoever he's working with, he wants his audience to experience the fun he's having on stage. "One of my goals is to be an inspiring artist to others. I have fun dancing, but I want others to have fun as well."

Photo by Lynn Lane
Shohei Iwahama, company member of NobleMotion Dance; lighting design by Jeremy Choate.

What he does:
"I dance, choreograph and teach. I'm a contemporary/modern dancer and choreographer."

Why he likes it:
For Shohei, one of the greatest aspects of dance is its freedom from external necessities. Musicians need their instruments and visual artists need their materials. But a dancer can even be free of music. "I like dance because it does not require anything except my body. I can dance anywhere and anytime I want."

What inspires you:
When you move from another country to live and work, when you've graduated from an esteemed dance program and when you're worked with an accomplished roster of choreographers by the age of twenty-five, you learn to take inspiration from the small details of daily life. "I'm inspired by anything I see in the world," he says.

If not this, then what:

It seems life on the stage would be the inevitable result for Shohei no matter what. "If I wasn't dancing, then I would be playing the cello. I started playing the cello when I was nine years old, but I quit when I was eighteen. I chose dance over cello."

What's Next:
"For the 2013-2014 season, I will be performing with Hope Stone Dance Company and NobleMotion Dance. I will also be involved in some projects with Rednerrus Feil Dance Company." Shohei will kick off the season in FrenetiCore's The Rite of Summer on August 29-31.

More Creatives for 2013
(In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).

Erica DelGardo, metalsmith
Bob Clark, executive director Houston Family Arts Center
Kerrelyn Sparks, bestselling romance author

Lindsay Halpin, punk rock mad hatter
Drake Simpson, actor
Shelby Carter, Playboy model turned photographer
David Matranga, actor
Crystal Belcher, pole dancer
Daniel Kramer, photographer
Blue 130, pin-up explosion art

Nina Godiwalla, author and TED speaker
David Wilhem, light painter
Tom Abrahams, author and newscaster
Browncoat, pin-up pop artist
Kris Becker, Nu-Classical composer and pianist
Vincent Fink, science fashion
Stephanie Saint Sanchez, Senorita Cinema founder
Ned Gayle, thrift store painting defacer

Sameera Faridi, fashion designer
Greg Ruhe, The Human Puppet

Sophia L. Torres, founder and co-artistic director of Psophonia Dance Company
Maggie Lasher, dance professor and artistic director
Jordan Jaffe, founder of Black Lab Theatre
Outspoken Bean, performance poet
Barry Moore, architect
Josh Montoute, mobile gaming specialist
Ty Doran, young actor
Gwen Zepeda, Houston's first Poet Laureate
Joseph Walsh, principal dancer at Houston Ballet
Justin Garcia, artist
Buck Ross, dilettante and director of Moores Opera Center
Patrick Renner, sculptor of the abstract and the esoteric
Tomas Glass, abstract artist and True Blood musician
Ashley Stoker, painter, photographer and Tumblr muse
Amy Llanes, artistic airector of Rednerrus Feil Dance Company
Bevin Bering Dubrowski, executive director at the Houston Center for Photography

Lydia Hance, founder and director of Frame Dance Productions
Piyali Sen Dasgupta, mixed media artist and nature lover
Dean James, New York Times bestselling mystery novelist
Nicola Parente, abstract painter and photographer

Cheryl Schulke, handmade leather pursemaker
Anthony Rathbun, Alternative Lifestyle Photographer
David Salinas, computer-less analog photographer

Danielle Burns, art curator
Alicia DiRago, Whimseybox founder

Katia Zavistovski, contemporary art curator

Ashley Horn, choreographer, filmmaker
Amanda Stevens, scary book author
Peter Lucas, film and video curator, music lover and self-described culture-slinger

Ana María Otamendi, collaborative pianist and vocal coach

Billy D. Washington, comedian
Michele Brangwen, choreographer and dancer

Kristin Warren, actress and choreographer

Kelly Sears, animator and film maker
Colton Berry, Bayou City Theatrics' artistic director

jhon r. stronks,dance-maker
Joe Grisaffi, actor, director, writer, cinematographer
Jordan "Monster Mac" McMahon, artist, designer

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