Travis Wall on ‘So You Think You Can Dance’: I Thought I Was Too Nice
The season two alum returned to the stage as a contestant-turned-choreographer, delivering dazzling, emotional routines. His work pushes the dancers to the limit, yet plays off their strengths. He’s a fan favorite for good reason!
Even so, there are times when he has been criticized for his efforts by the judges. With his turn behind the table this season, he tells Celebuzz that while he enjoyed it, he was too nice! Plus, we get the details on his new project that will take him from TV to the big screen.
Tell us about your new project?
I leave to start on Step Up 4 on Sunday in Miami for two months. It’s my first movie that I am choreographing, so I’m excited. I’m doing all the contemporary choreography.
Is this the direction you’d like to move in?
It sounds so cliché, but I want to do everything! I get to come back for the Emmys on September 10. Things just keep on coming! There’s talk about me being an associate producer for a new Broadway play coming out, which is another great thing for me to put my foot through the door.
When you first went on So You Think You Can Dance, had you worked as a choreographer before?
Yes, I started choreographing [in my mom’s studio]. I started choreographing at 14, doing solos and group routines when I was 16. My best friend Nick went on season one, but I was too young to go on. I saw what it was like for him and I was like, “oh that would be awesome for my career,” so I went on season two to get more of a name in the industry and build that platform so that I could become a better choreographer.
You really had a plan, then?
Yes! I told them when I finished and didn’t win, “I will choreograph for this show some day.” I shut myself in the studio for two years and worked and created pieces – just practicing and coming up with major changes.
Stunning Travis Wall Routine on SYTYCD:
When you’re working with the dancers, how much of your routine depends upon their strengths versus what was really in your head?
The concept is all in my head and the routine is played in their strength. Especially with So You Think You Can Dance, it’s not about you on the show, it’s about getting the dancers a safe pass onto the next week. For something like a production of mine that I’m doing, the dancers are going to have to do the dances that I want in my head; because those are my dancers. It’s completely different thing. You have to cater to what’s in front of you.
We’ve seen on the show that if a routine doesn’t go over well, those are the people who are later up for elimination. Do you ever worry that you could send someone home?
That’s always something you think about! When they’re in rehearsal and I give them a movement that doesn’t look good, I give them something different. Not only will they look bad, but it will make me look bad because it’s my choreography. It’s on me to at the end of the day and all of our asses are on the line! [Laughs]
Do the other choreographers ever get worked up by the judges’ comments?
Absolutely! There is definitely talking going on, but we always have to look forward. I had an incident that I said something, because Nigel said something about my routine. He was like, “Oh, this is suppose to be jazz and this is more contemporary.” So, I was like, “If you want jazz, I’ll give you jazz!” Everyone started tweeting about the judges’ comments and saying, “Why the blows? It’s not about the choreographers!”
Is that something you carry over, or do you just brush that off?
Yeah, I carried it over for a week and I was like, “Ugh!” But then you redeem yourself and get good compliments and forget about the whole thing. I learned my lesson and learned the hard way. You learn what to do the next time.
This season was your first time at the judges’ table. Was it weird?
It was amazing! It was fun. I was so excited to do it because I always wanted to be a judge.
Is that something you would like to do again?
Absolutely! It’s hard to find the balance of being honest, but nice enough so that America wouldn’t be like, “He’s a prick! He just wants to put dancers down!” It was hard to be nice while being honest and telling the dancers what would make them better. I wanted to say a lot more, but knew I had to work with them next week so it was hard. I thought I was too nice. There were things I really wanted to say but decided not to. [Laughs] Maybe at my 10th time of judging I’ll be a little harsher. But since it’s my first time, I just had to let it slide.