I watch a handful of reality shows. The majority of the them are on HGTV, of course, one of which has to do with fixing up houses. But that’s a post for another time. One of the shows I watch on a prime network is So You Think You Can Dance. Have you heard of it? If not, well, lemme break it down for you:
A Little Backstory
On the show, host Cat Deeley is joined by main judges Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy and other guest judges (Paula Abdul, Jason Derulo, Vanessa Hudgens, to name a few) for the Emmy Award-winning dance competition series. Dancers are usually ages 18-30 (although they changed it up in 2016 where the ages were 8-13) and their styles range from tap to hip-hop to ballroom to contemporary.
During nationwide auditions, the contestants vie for a place at “The Academy,” and the best dancers advance to the next round. The top 10 dancers partner with all-stars and move on to the SYTYCD studio. One contestant is eliminated each week until the winner is named during the season finale. Similar to Dancing With The Stars (but much better because it’s real dancers, not, well, stars), the final ten dancers go on a national tour.
Now, on with the story…
The show started in 2005 but sadly, I didn’t jump on the dance wagon until Season 3. I fell off after that, but hitched a ride again around Season 8 and have been watching it ever since. For the record, they just finished their 14th season. I honestly don’t remember what season I was introduced to this creative soul and his amazing choreography, but he is one of my all-time favorite choreographers on the show.
In 2011, he co-founded dance company, Shaping Sound, an “electrifying mash-up of dance styles and musical genres brought fully to life on stage by a dynamic company of contemporary dancers.” A chance to see this dude dance in person? HELLS YEAH! If you love dance, if you love the show So You Think You Can Dance, then you need to experience the amazing world of Travis Wall.
MEET TRAVIS WALL
Travis is the winner of the 2015 Emmy Award for Outstanding Choreography. He was the runner-up for the Fox reality show So You Think You Can Dance Season 2, and is currently a resident choreographer for the national dance competition show.
Travis is a five-time Emmy nominated choreographer for his work on So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars. He choreographed the music video for Carrie Underwood’s “Something In The Water”, which won the CMT Video of the Year, as well as stage shows for Justin Bieber and Demi Lovato.
Additional TV credits include choreographing the 82nd Academy Awards, Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary Special on ABC, the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards and an episode of Pretty Little Liars featuring Maddie Ziegler. Feature Film credits include choreography for The Wedding Ringer starring Kevin Hart and the contemporary numbers for the feature film Step Up Revolution.
He had the privilege of working with First Lady, Michelle Obama on her Let’s Move Campaign where he created the GimmeFive routine that was performed on Ellen and at The White House. Travis teaches with NUVO Dance Convention. @TravisWall.
– taken from the Shaping Sound website
The Latest Production
For the second time, I had the pleasure of seeing Travis’s most recent production, “After the Curtain”: a show that tells the story of a man trying to get in touch with his creativity following the death of his true love. Music is by Son Lux
WHAT I LOVED
It’s more like what didn’t I love. The world that Travis creates in this production is fuckin’ AMAZEBALLS. Overall, I loved the whole concept of “reconnecting with your creativity.” The character that Travis portrayed was not only a writer, but a tortured one. I loved how his Inner Editor was portrayed as a living/breathing thing, coming through the mirror to torment him.
The creative process is fickle and brutal and your Inner Editor is always there to remind you that you’re not good enough. And if real life intrudes, in can be a bitch to find your mojo again. Being a writer myself, it was like Travis was speaking directly to me. But I believe any creative person would have felt the same. But here are other things I loved:
The small details. Travis’s character used a vintage typewriter. A real one that actually worked and was part of his performance (see above pic). I had a serious jealousy-squee moment because I love vintage typewriters. I have two non-working ones and own some vintage typewriter artwork. If we had the space, I would collect more.
I mention the typewriter because the inside of the program was written from Travis’s character’s POV. And it looks like it was typed up on a vintage typewriter, mistakes and all. I loved that because it reinforced the writer aspect of the show and it provided something unique.
The marquee. At the beginning of the show, Vincent (Travis’s character) is sitting at a lighted mirrored table typing. As he’s typing out the above words in the pic, they’re being projected onto a marquee for the audience. You’re literally watching him type. I thought that was really clever because I’d seen this before in the movies; when someone’s working on a story, and the camera focuses on the computer screen and you’re watching the words being typed out. The marquee was used a few more times throughout the performance and it was a fabulously unique visual.
The costumes and the set. It takes place in the 1920’s-1930’s, on the set of a cabaret/burlesque-type show. So the girls wore vintage clothes, vintage lingerie, and wigs with hairstyles from that era.
And the guys wore vintage, too: high-waisted pants with suspenders, saddle shoes and the slicked-down hair.
The set pieces were minimal. Wooden staircases, dressing room-type furniture (chaise lounge, lighted mirrors, etc.), the lighted-mirror desk for Travis’s character, the curtains—so that the dancers could move them around seamlessly. And it was seamless. Scenes blended together so smoothly, like it was part of the dance routine, that it never took away from the performance. It was just incredible and professionally executed.
MY FAVORITE PARTS
In addition to the marquee and the use of an actual working vintage typewriter (I’ll stop squeeing about it in a minute. Pinky swear), there were three main things:
1) The aerial work. So. So. Beautiful and so unexpected.
2) ”Lantern Lit” scene. This took place a few scenes after Vincent’s love had been murdered. My interpretation of this scene was that it was a dream sequence in which Vincent gets to see his love one last time before he goes “into the light.”; like he was saying goodbye and letting him go. The scene was so beautiful and heart-wrenching and the music was so haunting, that I cried a little.
3) WE GOT TO MEET THE CAST!! GAHOGMYGODI’MGONNAPASSOUT!!! How the fuck did you get so lucky? I’m glad you asked. The dance community is very small, as you may or may not know. If you go to a professional dance performance (and by that, I mean at the theater or a concert-level venue), more than likely, you’re going to run into dancers from different studios in the audience.
My bestie that went with me (her 14 yr old daughter is an AMAZING dancer) knew someone who also got tickets for that night’s performance. The woman’s son met Travis through a class he’d taught, so she emailed the pic of her son and Travis to Travis’s company. Long story short, if you could get at least a group of ten people together, you’d get a meet’n’greet after the show.
Her friend had a total of eight people. Including me and my girl, Rhonda.
When Rhonda told me that we might get to meet Travis, I got a little giddy.
When she confirmed it before the show started, I wanted to pass out.
While we were waiting for him to come out, she had to fake-slap me a few times because I was starting to lose my shit. LOL. If you’re not in the dance world or have never watched So You Think You Can Dance, then you can’t understand where I’m coming from.
I love anything dance. I’ve seen nearly all the dance movies that have come out over the past decade or so.
I also love to dance. I spent a good portion of my early 20s in nightclubs every Friday and Saturday night. A few years ago, I was taking a zumba class and a hip-hop cardio class a couple of times a week at a gym (before my body started saying “Bless your heart, girlfren’, for thinking I can keep this up twice a week”). You see where I’m going here, right?
The fact that I would get a chance to meet an Emmy Award Winning choreographer, someone I’d been watching on TV for years? That’s a once in a lifetime kinda situation, people!
When I found out it was Travis and the whole cast, and not just Travis by himself, I was incredibly relieved because I probably would’ve lost my shit and embarrassed my bestie. LOL Still, I feel like I blacked out momentarily because I don’t remember what I said to him or the cast. LOL
I like to think he was looking at me because I’d said something witty before the pic got taken. Bwaha.
ANYWHO, if this show is coming to your town GO. SEE. IT.
Have you ever met Travis Wall? Have you been to any of his Shaping Sound shows?
Do tell all in the comments below.