If you’re a regular viewer of Fox’s dance reality competition series “So You Think You Can Dance” you know whenever choreographer/dancer Travis Wall is in the house, there’s going to be louder cheers from the audience, amazing choreography and he’ll take the dancers to new heights.
This season has been no different. In fact, we’ve been seeing more of Wall’s work as he’s surpassed his usual 6 or 7 pieces a season and, as he told me earlier this week, he’ll hit 12 pieces by the end of the season. No wonder he’s Emmy-nominated again this season, right? [Other nominees from "SYTYCD" are Mandy Moore, Napoleon and Tabitha Dumo and Christopher Scott.]
Besides the show, Wall is prepping a new tour with the dance company Shaping Sound, which he began three years ago with fellow dancer/choreographers Nick Lazzarini, Teddy Forance and Kyle Robinson. And he also has a new puppy with his longtime boyfriend, Dom Palange.
During our chat Wall talked about the Television Academy’s growing attention to choreographers as well as whether marriage is on his mind and, of course, what we’ll see on tonight’s “SYTYCD.”
Let’s talk Emmys first and you were at an Emmy reception for the nominated choreographers over the weekend. I was going to ask if you were able to just chill but I forgot you also performed!
Travis Wall: No, it wasn’t chilling but it was amazing because it’s the first time they’ve had a reception for the choreographers. Last year was the first time we got to be in prime time and we created the numbers and this year a reception so it’s getting better every year.
It was awesome to hear the Academy speak of how important the choreographers are and to bring awareness to our industry of choreographers and that we should be a part of the Academy and we should vote. What I found out is there are only twelve voters on a panel to vote for Best Choreography so it was great to bring awareness to the choreographers that it benefits being a part a part of the Academy for the insurance, all the screenings you can attend and it was great that everyone got together for that.
I watched your Emmy-nominated numbers from last season again so I’m curious if it’s tough for you to pick the ones you submit? Or maybe the show submits them for you?
TW: We pick them together. Jeff Thacker, the executive producer, calls and says “hey, I think these are your strongest pieces. I think this is the order. What do you think?” Looking back at all for them, I thought, “Yeah, those are the strongest three” and then you put them in the order since they watch your body of work. The show chooses first if they want to submit you – last year for season 9, I submitted myself – but this year the show submitted me.
I remember seeing the piece with Robert and Tucker last season and saying “I think Travis Wall just won an Emmy.”
TW: Thank you so much. That piece is obviously near and dear to my heart so it’s amazing!
Do you put a ton of thought into what you’re going to wear to the red carpet at the Emmys?
TW: No, I try to get someone to dress me! (laughs). I know I should get on that right now but I’m just so busy!
You’ve also been really busy on “So You Think You Can Dance” this season. Are you on this week’s episode, too?
TW: Yeah. I’m only doing one this week and then I have two more coming up. I think at the end of the season I will have done 12 pieces, which is crazy because season seven I did seven and last season I did six and now I’m up to 12, which is crazy, but I love it!
When do you start thinking about the dance?
TW: It comes as I find out who I have. I have a list of songs I get cleared so I have music that I can use and then as I find out the dancers, I choose what song I’m going to use.
Can you say who you’re choreographing this week?
I have Jamie Goodwin as my All-Star, which is like my home turf. And then she’s paired with Ricky (Ubeda). He’s uber-talented. He’s really, really talented.
Talk to me about Shaping Sound. You’re starting a new tour soon, right?
TW: Yeah, we start rehearsals in September and we have auditions because we’re replacing two girls and two guys so we’re excited to see who comes out and who wants to go on tour with us. We’re going to do a 36-city tour and it starts in October and we haven’t had auditions since the very, very beginning of the company, which was three years ago.
How will the Shaping Sound show change this year?
TW: We re-worked the show with different cast members and different opportunities for different numbers but a lot of the favorite numbers are still in there but we constantly improve the show every single time and make it more clear and just have better movement. We’re always trying to make it better.
Travis, you choreograph and you also perform. Do you have to split yourself off depending on what you’re doing or is it all the same for you?
TW: It’s very different for me to put myself onstage. It’s a lot easier just to choreograph and step back and watch it. When you’re putting yourself into it you don’t know what it looks like so there’s a lot of recording, there’s a lot of ‘I’ve got to watch this and I’ve gotta see what it looks like.’ I don’t prefer that because I can’t sit back and enjoy the work. I have to be stressed out with performing it and then I don’t get to really create. I like to really sit back.
However, at the same time, I’m a really good partner so I love when I get to duet the way I want them to be done because I really know how to put a girl where she’s supposed to be. Sometimes when you work on the show, some of the guys, the partners, they are good dancers but as partners go they don’t really know how to deal with a woman’s weight. I like doing duets with the company because I like dancing with somebody else. I hate doing solos. I’m not a solo dancer and I hate being onstage by myself.
How’s everything else? How’s Dom?
TW: Dom is good. The puppy good and really big. We got a golden retriever named Theo and he’s six month and he’s massive! They grow up so quick!
And, Travis, you do know it’s legal to get married in California. You know this, right?
TW: [laughs] Yes, I know it is legal to get married. I know.
Is that something you’re thinking about at this point.
TW: We’re thinking…
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