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Meet Susan Vishmid of Freaks With Lines in West LA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Susan Vishmid.

Susan, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am the Creative Director of Freaks With Lines®, a neoclassical contemporary ballet company in Los Angeles. At age four, I began my early ballet training at the Westside School of Ballet in Santa Monica and through scholarships continued my professional training at the Pacific Northwest Ballet School, San Francisco Ballet School and The Rock School.

My professional ballet career includes Pennsylvania Ballet, Santa Fe Opera, San Diego Opera, Chicago Festival Ballet, Napoles Ballet Theatre, California Contemporary Ballet, City of Angels Ballet, California Riverside Ballet, Key West Ballet, Coast City Ballet and San Gorgonio Ballet. My unwavering passion for ballet and my attention to detail as a dancer and as an instructor fuel Freaks With Lines® and my private ballet and Pilates clientele. I am a Los Angeles native and a USC alumni (cum laude) with a B.A. in Communication and Philosophy.

Freaks With Lines® mission is simple: To preserve and nurture classical dance by collaborating with various artists, dancers and non-dancers, to produce work that subverts traditional norms often associated with the ballet world.
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Our vision is clear: To give ballet a voice and the chance at achieving longevity in the post-postmodern world by unifying and enabling classically trained artists.

Freaks With Lines® (FWL) serves as a platform to showcase both independent and collaborative works between professional dancers and other creatives in various disciplines. Dancers are FREAKS who live, eat and breathe to create LINES and ultimately scrutinize those creations. Dance is a self-serving art form. Thus, Freaks With Lines® are the creators AND the consumers of our own art.

The quest for perfection is every dancer’s story. Every day is a hunting expedition for the most perfect line we can possibly create with our bodies because the body is our sole vehicle for expression. The story, no matter how abstract, is always contained in the lines.

We are beautiful freaks who manufacture stories via cohesion of lines in space and we lurk amongst the generic population ready to appease ourselves first and foremost, and any other voyeurs bold enough to accept the invitation to our mobile variety “Freak Show.”

THE STORY IS IN THE LINES… THEREFORE, LINES MATTER

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Absolutely not! Navigating through injuries, the politics, the egos and the pure grit associated with the ballet has certainly complicated things. However, there is nothing I would not do for my beloved art. I created Freaks With Lines® because unfortunately I was not seeing the opportunities here in Los Angeles that one would expect to see for talented and classically trained dancers. Freaks With Lines® is more than just a dance company; it is a laboratory where professional dancers can create on each other and begin to really take agency over the entire creative process from the production to the choreography to the dissemination and distribution of our beloved art. We are indeed consumers of our own craft.

Freaks With Lines – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We are different by virtue of our “freakiness.” To be successful in ballet one needs a specific body. Our bodies have been molded through years and years of hard work and all of us “Freaks” have something very special about us. There are certain aesthetic requirements to be a Freak With Lines and I believe I have a good eye for spotting such talent and assembling the right team of artists.

Additionally, I am learning many things about my own approach to ballet. My skills have expanded far beyond just being a dancer. Freaks With Lines® allows me to explore other areas of my craft like choreography and production, which in the end are all perks that inform and elevate my relationship to the art form.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Winning an award for Best Performance at SMUSH Festival in November 2019!

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Image Credit:

Martin Chalifaur

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