Chiaki Ito, one of the Extraordinary People of the Cape Fear

A lawyer who also moonlights as a musical director has discovered yet another passion, and it's dog-gone fun!

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Trying to describe Wilmington attorney Chiaki Ito is like trying to describe water: she’s fluid, fresh and free-flowing.

Ito trained as a classical pianist in high school at the NC School of the Arts, and never lost touch with her musical roots.  She went to UNC-Chapel Hill to get a bachelor’s degree in Speech Communications, and to Guam to earn a master’s in Counseling before deciding to become an attorney, which has been her primary career for several decades.

But the arts community came calling when people learned of her musical talents.

She helped start City Stage musical theatre company in Wilmington with entrepreneur Justin Smith several years ago, and produced dozens of shows over several years, while also serving as musical director.

“Her style and her spunk and her creativity really led to what city stage became for the next 14 years,” Smith offered.

Ito described just how busy they were back then.

“We did probably 8 to 10 shows a year, musicals,” Ito said. “So we would have one musical rehearsing during the week and another one in performance during the weekend.”

The pandemic changed all that, and so did a discovery near her law office.

A stray mixed breed dog, down on its luck, with nowhere to turn.  Chiaki took her in and named her Ann Perkins after a character on a popular sitcom.

She took her to obedience training, and within a few lessons, the instructor recommended Chiaki and Ann Perkins do agility work.

“I trained for about a year and then we started competing, ” Chiaki explained. “Within 6 months she rose up to the top ranks of AKC agility.”

Ann has won 2 Master Agility Championships and is working on her third.   The two competed at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club this year, and while they didn’t place, Ann showed well.

“She ran great at Westminster.  The mistakes she made were mine; it was my cueing mistakes,” according to Ito.

Chiaki shows no signs of slowing down, whether it’s in her office, behind the musical theatre curtain or in agility competitions.

She’s recently started chronicling her adventures in agility competitions with a new Dog Blog.

One can only wonder, what could she possibly do next?

We’re betting whatever it is, it will be extraordinary!

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