Lisa Wymore and her family moved around a lot when she was a child.
Every few years involved packing boxes and moving into a new house. When she was around two years old her family moved to Morocco. Other childhood homes were located in San Francisco (where she was born), Modesto, Sacramento, Glen Ellen and Sonoma California. As long as Lisa can remember she has been making dances and site-specific installations. Much of her work was done in collaboration with her twin sister and her younger sister. Often the performances included heavy utilization of household objects, fantastical use of clothing, and of course movement and music. Lisa’s mother is a visual artist and photographer and her father is a doctor and music lover.
In hind site, all the moving (both from house to house and within the houses), greatly informed Lisa’s decision to become a performing artist. New homes are like stages that require imagination, design, and physical labor to become fully activated. These skills are imbedded into Lisa’s dance making practices – often she makes the costumes, visualizes the set designs and oversees the mood of the performances that she creates for Smith/Wymore Disappearing Acts.
Early ballet training also played a key role in her development. After the family settled in the area of Sonoma County Lisa took classes regularly and performed with the Sonoma Ballet Conservatory. It was located in a charming old community center with huge windows and deliciously inviting nooks and crannies to explore during long Saturday afternoons. The Director at that time, Beth Marie Deenihan, created imaginative ballets for her students and paired that with solid ballet technique training. Beth Marie also allowed the dancers to input their ideas during the creative process. The types of performances that Lisa danced in included tableaux vivant spectacles, outdoor performances, childhood stories translated into performances, modern ballet duets with her twin sister, and traditional ballets like the ubiquitous Nutcracker (which she must have performed 8 or 9 times).
The foundation was laid in those early years for a dance-based performance career. Little did she know that when she entered UC Santa Cruz as an undeclared major in the late 1980’s that she would eventually become a dance artist “for real” as an adult. Before entering college Lisa had two major knee injuries and suffered through months on crutches. So, dance was not part of Lisa’s college plans. That all changed once she took her first Modern Dance class within the Theater Department at UC Santa Cruz. Some of her early teachers included Mel Wong, Greg Lizenberry, Sylvia Martins, and Tandy Beal. It did not take long for Lisa to become a fully invested and committed modern dancer. Lisa majored in Political Theory, but danced in every production, play, dance concert, parade, etc. that she could get involved in. Had there been a Performance Studies major she would have jumped at the opportunity. Lisa briefly had delusions that studying law would be a great career choice, but it soon became clear that a career in law was not in Lisa’s future. Try as she might sitting in an office 8 hours a day did not suite her.
So, after graduating from UC Santa Cruz Lisa moved to San Francisco and danced with Tandy Beal and Company on several projects including Outside Blake’s Window. She also traveled to Japan for three months to dance in a circus project that Tandy Beal choreographed. In San Francisco Lisa worked as an independent dance artist, a physical therapists aide and a personal trainer. During that time she studied with Joe Goode, Ellie Klopp, Janice Garrett, Arturo Fernandez, and Augusta Moore. She was a company member of the Nesting Dolls dance company, Directed by Cid Pearlman, for two years. After returning from Japan Lisa entered graduate school at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana where she received her MFA in dance and was given a full scholarship and awarded a Moe Family Award for creativity. It was in graduate school that becoming a dance artist and dance educator came to fruition. Under the incredible guidance of her mentors Rebecca Nettl-Fiol and Renée Wadleigh Lisa figured out that dance, in its fullest form, from the physical to the intellectual, was her life career. After graduating from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana Lisa moved to Chicago.
After 5 great years dancing, choreographing and administrating dance projects in Chicago Lisa moved to Berkeley, California to be closer to family. While in Chicago Lisa danced with Mordine and Company Dance Theatre, Hedwig Dances, Break Bone Dance Company, and many others. She also taught at the Lou Conte Hubbard Street Dance Studio for two years, at Columbia College for 2 years, and at Northwestern University for four years. In 2001 she joined with Sheldon B. Smith to form Smith/Wymore Disappearing Acts and together they have collaborated on numerous projects ranging from pure dance investigations to conceptual performance works. In 2003 Lisa and Sheldon were married and they now have a two year old son named William. Both William and the family dog, Zoe, have participated in SMDA performances. Lisa is now the Director of the Dance Program in the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies Department at UC Berkeley and can pursue her lifelong research investigations into performance, new media, dance studies, and dance/theater.