Travis Talks

Travis Wall is now a star choreographer on SYTYCD.

This week, we saw a very moving Contemporary piece that Travis Wall choreographed about his mom, who is recovering from surgery. The Season 2 runner-up won over the hearts of viewers with his dancing in 2006, and now he’s doing it all over again with his choreography. We recently caught up with Travis to find out about his journey as a choreographer, advice for the finalists, and more.

Travis often choreographs pieces to current music. He said, “Jason Mraz is my favorite artist. He’s ridiculous and that was pretty much the inspiration for my Las Vegas auditions piece. His music and lyrics and story behind the song were inspiration enough for me. I create the dance from there.”

When the news came out about the different format for Season 7, Travis supported it and the dancers who made it far. “I’m really impressed with the dancers they have. I think it’s going to be an amazing season because we’re only picking 5 girls and 5 guys and not 10 girls and 10 guys. Sometimes you get a few who aren’t as great, and sometimes America votes for those who aren’t that great. That’s why I think just to get to the Top 10 we’re going to get the best dancers. And they’re dancing with all-stars which means you have to dance up; you can’t sit in it. If you sit in it it’s going to be done; it’s going to be obvious. I think it’s going to be a really great season.”

Travis isn’t an all-star this season because he’s pursuing his passion and talent as a choreographer. “I’m only choreographing right now,” Travis revealed. “I did some work on Dancing with the Stars and choreographed for the Los Angeles Ballet Company. Everything is just snowballing. It’s definitely been an experience and I’m really excited about it.”

Since he’s been through the So You Think You Can Dance experience, Travis had the following advice for the contestants. “It’s not about being a good dancer; it’s never about being a good dancer. The best dancer never wins this show – ever – and has never won it in six seasons. It’s what people like, and not even just on this show. We just did the Oscars and I hired dancers with Adam Shankman for the program and there were people with beautiful legs and beautiful technique, but if you don’t connect to me, I can’t put you on TV. It sounds so cliché, but we’re hiring stars not dancers. I never understood that when I was on the show. Auditioning people and picking people for my stuff I realize it’s so true. They’ve got to have something about them that makes them more than just a dancer. At this point everyone can dance well, so it’s about who shines and who you can remember at the end of the day. All six seasons, which contestants do you remember? You remember the stars.”

We wish Denise Wall – Travis’ mom (who is also Season 3 runner-up Danny Tidwell’s mom) – a speedy recovery!

View photos of Travis’ pieces on SYTYCD.


43 comments on “Travis Talks“

  1. Debra - wrote:

    Would have been beautiful on the old smaller stage. So much of the dance gets lost on that huge empty stage.

    7/15/2010 2:44 PM UTC

  2. claire - wrote:

    i think this dance was beautiful. i cry every time i watch it. that is the most amazing part of dance, that movements can touch you so deeply. it really came from his heart and everyone can see that. i have no idea what i’d do without my mom, and i’m almost 18, so i’m praying for you and your mother. thank you for that gorgeous dance. muchhh love :)

    7/15/2010 5:15 PM UTC

  3. fran - wrote:

    Travis, you are truly gifted and that number was the highlight of the show! simplly amazing and touching!

    7/15/2010 6:23 PM UTC

  4. Sal - wrote:

    So what happened to Mary Murphy? Did I miss something but I haven,t heard anything on why she’s not there?

    7/15/2010 6:25 PM UTC

  5. Laura - wrote:

    Travis, your dance was amazing with your choreography and because you had very good and WELL TRAINED dancers performing it. every season the judges discriminate against the dancers that are trained and not trained. i’m sorry this show is called so you think you can DANCE not lets see who doesn’t know how to dance and watch them flub every dance. i’m sorry i am a dance and i’ve been dancing for 17 years of my life. and for these judges to pull down the dancers who work the butts off to be amazing and all you can do is cut them down. after this show those are the dancers that get the jobs, not the ones who have no technique. the only judge that knows anything and actually gives GOOD feedback is Adam. Mia, stick to choregraphing. your very rude and hateful and people will not want to work with someone like you. Nigel, where did you come from you know nothing. i will never audtion for this show because of the judging this year (excluding Adam) and if this keeps happening i may not watch it again. i’m sorry i am a dancer and i enjoy watching good performers that CAN DANCE. just think about it.
    Travis, thank you for being an amazing choregrapher and dancer and artist.

    7/15/2010 6:37 PM UTC

  6. Emily - wrote:

    Travis you are an amazing dancer, I hope that one day I will be able to dance like you, it’s amazing the amount of talent you have. I am a dancer and have been for as long as I can remember. I live in a small town in Ontario and I take Ballet and Jazz classes as best I can, but in this small community it’s hard to continue my life down a path of dancing, but I’m not going to give up dancing it’s what I love to do. I dance all the time, on stage, in my room, and in my kitchen I even find myself dancing down the street!!

    7/15/2010 6:55 PM UTC

  7. Jess - wrote:

    Travis and Allison should dance together. They were both stars of season 2 and it would be amazing to see them together.

    7/15/2010 8:54 PM UTC

  8. Tiger - wrote:

    It’s my favorite show and Cat is the best. However, I don’t get the following:
    1. Why does Nigel have to ask the bottom three to step forward and then step back?
    2. Why is MM the judge?
    3. Why does it seem that the top 11 are technically no better than the previous seasons’ top 20?

    7/15/2010 8:57 PM UTC

  9. RandR88 - wrote:

    Geez, Travis sounds like he really drank the SYTYCD Kool-Aid. Here’s what I’m sick of: 1) the judges creating a canned narrative around specific contestants that they, personally, would like to win then Nigel manipulating the production to support this. They’ve become casting directors, not judges, and it gets worse every season. 2) not giving other choreographers a voice on the judges panel – it has made the judgement segments very boring and they used to be so much fun. 3) the constant use of superlatives, i.e., “that was the best routine we’ve ever had”, “you’re the strongest female dancer we’ve ever had”, “you’re the most hirable dancer we’ve ever had”. Come on, enough is enough. It’s getting old. 4) The ridiculous assumption and facade that all the male dancers are straight. Nigel loves giving the frat boy wink and comment to these obviously gay boys about the hot girls, AS IF! Let’s face it, the vast majority of males competing on the show are gay…yes, America, even your favorites. 5) anything and everything that comes out of Mia Michaels’ or Adam Shankman’s mouths. I guess they know dance, but they are so shockingly inarticulate I feel sorry for the dancers trying to figure out what the heck their “advice” even means! Mia…no matter how hard you keep trying to sell the term “Mamma Mia” we’re never, ever going to call you that!

    7/15/2010 9:00 PM UTC

  10. MJ Cole - wrote:

    That was an absolutely stunning, beautiful, moving piece… One of my favorite ever danced on the SYTYCD stage by two of my “favorite ever” dancers: Allison and Robert. I’ve watched it 10 times now, and it brings tears to my eyes every time. So happy Robert finally got the chance to do a “beautiful dance.”

    7/15/2010 9:12 PM UTC

  11. Chris - wrote:

    This routine was great, but I feel like this entire season has lost a step. The choreography and dancing is better than ever but Mia and Adam are bringing the show down. Especially Mia Micheals, her choreography is amazing but she is the worst, most annoying judge on any show. We need Mary Murphy back. (and I used to think she was somewhat annoying, but I now know better). Bring back Mary!!!

    7/15/2010 11:19 PM UTC

  12. Chris - wrote:

    I feel like I have to say that Travis is absolutely amazing but adechike and kent’s routine was the best of the night.

    7/16/2010 12:10 AM UTC

  13. Kelley Kristensen - wrote:

    I Have to get in the hands of Travis Wall a song he was born to choreograph….how do I at least get this amazing song to the most amazing choreographers ever?? Is there an agent I need to go through? If I could put earbuds in his ears for 4 minutes with my sisters song….magic would happen. I am not a freak, I have songs that need to be shared with these amazing choreographers….indie music is the best out there I sware….please help me at least get Travis to hear the songs…

    7/16/2010 1:06 AM UTC

  14. Amy P - wrote:

    Travis, I just watched your piece today. It touched me so deeply that I felt compelled to reach out and thank you. I’m living in Amsterdam at the moment. I’m going through a divorce, I have no home to speak of, and the emptiness of the apartment I’m in at the moment has been overwhelming. Each day is a struggle and a fight for life, happiness and to find a way to see beauty in the world again.
    I cried through the whole performance. Watching these movements today was a reminder for me that there is hope in pain. Thanks again.

    7/16/2010 2:52 AM UTC

  15. catna - wrote:

    There are some pieces on the show that have touched me and moved me to tears and this was one of them. It is amazing how movement, the music and the sheer talent of the dancers can touch people so deeply. For you bloggers who are dancers, keep dancing. I think dance is the most beautiful art form and that dancers are true stars…more so then singers/”rock stars”.

    7/16/2010 5:20 AM UTC

  16. sue - wrote:

    I love the format this year. I think Mia and Adam are very articulate and very “in tune” with the world of dance and the commercial world of dance! Both have been incredibly successful in their own careers and they know what it takes for a young dancer to get ahead. What I don’t like is making a contemporary dancer do ballroom – for example. What the heck does that prove? They’ll probaby never do that style of dance again. Travis Wall is a genius at choreographing but I do miss seeing him dance.

    7/16/2010 5:24 AM UTC

  17. Lady Jane - wrote:

    I can’t remember what season it was, but one of the most instructive segments they have had on this show was when all the finalists danced to the same music–Waiting for the World to Change–to the same choreography.

    The good dancers popped right out. I’m sure many people were chagrined to see their “favorite” dancer bottom out by comparison to the top one or two whose brilliance you could just see for yourself.

    It’s my sense that a lot of audience response, especially as it is expressed passionately in these blogs, has less to do with dance and more to do with who’s been made an under dog by the judges or who happens to get the chance to keep shining in a style in which they have an edge, who is cute, or who has stage presence with or without technique. I don’t say this to be critical of other viewers, but sometimes there’s so much going on on the stage it’s hard to judge the dance as dance.

    In the segment I describe above, when all the dancers did the same thing to the same music, there was no chance for the groupie effect to dominate the voting.

    One of those object lessons in pure dance. I wish they’d do it every year with the top five or six.

    I’m beginning to wonder, this season especially with the new format, whether everything isn’t rigged, from the revelation of which partner the dancer will have to the dance style they are given. It even seems some of the routines are a gift to a particular dancer, especially sad-faced Jose who got to pretend he was Charlie Chaplin and then do a b-boy routine (at which he wasn’t nearly as good as Dominic, by the way).

    Finally, I know the producers imagine themselves to be on a worldwide mission to advance the cause of dance, but would they please stop throwing in such purely ethnic dances as Moldavian and Tahitian. I mean no disrespect to these traditions, but where a dance style has no history of intermingling with professional dance, it seems we are just asking Yankees to ape someone else’s sacredly held format. I’m remembering what hell public opinion gave those Russian ice dancers jumping around in aboriginal paint at the last Olympics, and for good reason. I felt the same way about Lauren being asked to shake her booty for a full two minutes in what couldn’t help being a parody of the Tahitian style.

    7/16/2010 5:35 AM UTC

  18. julie - wrote:

    love travis. but can you tell Fox to bring back Mary M. Mia’s comments are not at all constructive. don’t know who she thinks she is, but the words are not kind or helpful to the new dancers. do not like the new format. bring the old one back and i will continue to watch. love the old dancers and would like to see them occasionally. this is about the new and upcoming dancers. also, can you tell the producers to not have Cat touch the dancers heads, rub them, kiss them etc. its quiet unnerving to watch. It should be like American idol with ryan seacrest, no touching, kissing etc. shes really quiet annoying. her flurting with the guys is stupid too. watch her sometime and you will see what people are saying about her.

    7/16/2010 7:46 AM UTC

  19. J - wrote:

    I love you Travis (alway have )..your piece made me cry I lost my mom last year .so this touch me deeply your piece was very moving and special….thank you

    7/16/2010 9:01 AM UTC

  20. NewViewer - wrote:

    It was interesting to hear Nigel give Jose the first real feedback of the season and at least he owned that the judges had done him a disservice. If you look back to the prior week when Jose danced with Billy, the difference in their abilities was stark. I fully expected them to be frank with Jose at that time, but instead they jumped hard on Billy and gently told Jose, “just not strong enough.” Jose’s days are numbered.

    On another note, and perhaps I’ll get slammed, but I think Kent is doing a great job, but noone seems to comment on that. Why is that? He’s clearly a favorite of Cat’s, but he seems to deliver technically every week….

    7/16/2010 9:51 AM UTC

  21. Laurie - wrote:

    Thank you Travis for the dance in tribute to your mother. I am a 24/7 caregiver to my mother diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and on most days or the majority of each day, she does not know or remember me with exception of the end of each day when I practically carry her to her bed……this is when she will ever so lightly touch my face and say thank you and mention my name. The end of your dance reminded me of my long goodbye and goodnight to my dear mother who is fighting this dreaded disease with such grace and courage. Your dance empowered me more as the warrior caregiver. Thank you so much.

    7/16/2010 11:25 AM UTC

  22. ronald - wrote:

    I loved this choreograph piece!!…was very special and you showed many emotion on your dance…..I cant wait to see you in Orlando…Good Luck

    7/16/2010 12:53 PM UTC

  23. Meghan - wrote:

    Travis is beyond amazing. He was completely right when he said that the best dancer has never won their season. If the best dancers did win their seasons, Travis or Allison would have won season 2!!!

    7/16/2010 3:58 PM UTC

  24. asiuba - wrote:

    I wanted to let you know that your piece on this week’s show had both me and my husband in tears (the good kind, after holding my breath for what felt like hours). I was so glad someone could show the different aspects of dealing with severe illnesses, as I have been on both sides within the last few years. I’m a 33 year old who is still fighting with complications from breast cancer a year and a half ago, just after loosing my mom (at 51) to a long hard battle with leukemia. I use your work and others’ to teach in my art classes,. We discuss how art can take on so many different forms, and how true artwork is unforgettable whether you love or hate it… I don’t know if I’ll be able to use “Fix You,” because my kids don’t need to see me cry (again), but please know that all of the praises people have been singing are deserved. I couldn’t believe how accurate, yet poetic, a piece like that could ever be. I still don’t… until I watch it again (and many more “agains”).

    7/16/2010 4:37 PM UTC

  25. David B Katague - wrote:

    I love this show, even if I have no technical knowledge of DANCE. My guess is that Kent will win as America’s Favorite Dancer. He has the looks and the “it” factor and the young teenagers loves him. Travis is one of my favorite choreographer.

    7/16/2010 9:07 PM UTC

  26. Reese - wrote:

    OMG that was absolutely amazing in everyway. Meaning is the reason why I dance and you most definitely touched home… I wish i was in the states to catch you all on tour! *sighs* but duty calls..

    7/17/2010 8:02 AM UTC

  27. Tracy - wrote:

    Travis….the piece you choreographed that was dedicated to your mom was absolutely beautiful. I lost my mom last year, and watching that dance absolutely ripped me apart on so many levels. Sounds negative but no….it was such a representation of how helpless you feel when you are trying to give back to the one person who gives up everything for you. I loved it so much. Your brilliance and compassion and heart flowed throughout this performance.Thank you for that.

    7/18/2010 10:52 AM UTC

  28. Kameron Jacobs - wrote:

    Dance is a movement of the body, mind, and soul. Its very rare that a piece is able to connect with all three; and this one did! Probably one of the most moving dances I have ever seen. Truly, inspiring. I always look forward to Travis’s choreography because it comes right from the heart. <3

    7/18/2010 11:42 AM UTC

  29. booklover1945 - wrote:

    I would love to see a Travis Wall piece done to Miley Cyrus’ When I Look at You. It is a very emotional song for me, especially since losing my dear mom last month.

    7/19/2010 9:44 AM UTC

  30. Kristin - wrote:

    Never sent a comment before, but I watch SYTYCD with my 13 yr old son. GREAT bonding and so much fun to laugh and rewind and play our favorites over and over. BUT, your dance about your Mom. Wow. My mother recently had a stroke and doesn’t know us anymore, and this routine hit home. It opened dialogue between my son and I, plus taught us how deeply dance can evoke feelings and express so much to someone like me who only dances when I’m cleaning the house!

    7/19/2010 2:21 PM UTC

  31. Danielle Sampson - wrote:

    Travis is an absolute genious choreographer, better than Mia, in my opinion. Everything connects, it’s so fluent and emotional and intricate. I love Travis and I hope to see so much more of his beautiful work.

    7/19/2010 6:55 PM UTC

  32. Danielle Sampson - wrote:

    I agree with what some people are saying. I think the show is rigged and I’m tired of the superlatives as well. I liked having the different guest judges, I do enjoy seeing the past dancers, but I want to see what these new dancers have got together. I like that they are bringing more and more different dance styles in, it’s a celebration of dance every time, because dance is in every culture and it is such an amazing expression of spirit. In the last episode, sorry Adecheka (spelling??) but I thought the salsa was aweful, just aweful, beautiful dancer, just not for that style. I agree that Kent will most likely win, he is just beautiful, of course he needs that added roughness in some dances, but he’s young and that vulgarness/edgeness comes with experience. I have always disliked that they leave it up to a popularity contest, Nick in season 1, though, was a great dancer, don’t forget that.

    7/19/2010 7:13 PM UTC

  33. April - wrote:

    I have been a fan of the show since season one. I really wanted Travis to win so I am so happy to see that he is creating such beautiful dances. I don’t like the new stage. I think that all of the lights really take away from the performances.

    7/21/2010 4:43 AM UTC

  34. Jemma - wrote:

    everyone keeps hating on the judges, and I agree, they’re pretty annoying this season, but this is about Travis and all his amazingness (if that’s a word). Travis is aaaamazing, and I hope each week that he choreographs because you can never be disappointed with anything he does. I was hoping he would be one of the allstars this season, but I’m glad to see that he’s still choreographing. TRAVIS <3.

    7/21/2010 5:08 AM UTC

  35. Alexa - wrote:

    Travis, your dance number was amazing!!! I loved the part in the dance where “you and your mom”broke apart and her energy lifted and she was restored to health and strength the way you knew her before. The power of that dance really changed the way I think about dance and how much can be spoken with movement. Your choreography is so real. I can’t wait to see your next piece of choreography it inspires me as a young dancer.(^-^)

    7/21/2010 3:02 PM UTC

  36. Christina - wrote:

    I absolutely loved the performance! I have been a HUGE fan of Travis’s ever since Season 2 and get very excited when one of his pieces comes on.

    7/22/2010 2:21 PM UTC

  37. Tou Ger Lee - wrote:

    it was amazing. that’s all i have to say. i hope to see you dance on the show soon though, because you are just as amazing at dancing as you are at choreographing.

    7/22/2010 3:19 PM UTC

  38. Chaz - wrote:

    Here we go again!!! The judges can’t send any of the people home that was in the bottom three. Billy didn’t want to dance, he should have gone home. JUDGES your job is to send someone home every week in this competition and you didn’t do that last night. I don’t have a crystal ball but I know what is happening. I can tell you this, if Adechike had of been in the bottom three he would have gone home. In addition, next week would have been the week that the judges couldn’t send anyone home it would be up to the voters, now that they decided not to send anyone home, they are hoping that Jose and Adechike will be in the bottom and they will go home. Enough is Enough !!!! Stop trying to MANIPULATE the voters. Again it shows the Judges can’t do their jobs. Get new judges.

    7/23/2010 5:38 AM UTC

  39. Cary - wrote:

    Being of the “Old School” persuasion, I am not one to normally post.

    HOWEVER!!!, As a BIG fan of the show, I simply had to comment on Travis and Robert’s dedication to their Mom’s.

    I have always been a fan of Travis’. In this season I am the “Team Robert” President and possibly oldest member. ;-)

    When Robert performed this piece I was brought to tears (every time I watch it) As a stay-at-home-judge, I have always judged based on one simple criteria: Did I rewind it and watch it again? … And this one I have to say…MULTIPLE TIMES.

    There have been a few life-altering movies in my life, but this is the first dance routine. Not since watching the unforgettable scene in “The Champ”, the moving story lines of “Dead Poets Society” and “Life as a House”, have I felt a prodding for change in my own life… Until now.

    Watching the love, passion, and pain brought to life as 2 young men boldly exposed their love and their journey through their Mother’s struggle has caused me to take some serious inventory.

    As a Father,… I have been forced to recognize the need for change in my own life and have a renewed commitment to live a healthier life for the sake of those that love and rely on me. First and foremost it has given me the will-power to drop a 10 year tobacco habit of over a pack of day.

    Nigel mentioned this piece as being worthy of an Emmy nomination. I agree hands down, but let’s not stop there… It deserves to be the campaign piece for Breast Cancer, HIV/AIDS, and all life-threatening diseases from the birds-eye view of how they affect the loved ones of those stricken.

    I also think a re-visit in the Finale would be a worthy tribute… as well as a call to action for people to bring positive change to their house. I hope that many get a chance to see this routine.

    I WOULD HAVE GIVEN ANYTHING TO HAVE BEEN IN THE AUDIENCE FOR THAT PERFORMANCE. I can only imagine its impact in a live performance.

    Travis and Robert… should you ever see this posting… THANK YOU! For having the guts to share from your deepest place. YOU ARE TRULY ARTISTS with a great purpose.

    For the rest of you that read this… Please be encouraged to share this dance with those that you love and let everyday be the day of the dance.

    Find your rhythm and you can stop looking for a different drum.

    Enjoy the dance,

    8/3/2010 3:32 AM UTC

  40. KK DuBois - wrote:

    I am an “old” Broadway dancer from the late 1960′s and early 1970′s and a teacher for over 27 years. NEVER in my life have I been so moved as I was by the final performance during tonights performance August 4th! I had tears streaming down my cheeks before the dance was over. It even shocked me that I was reacting that way! The 2 dancers were unbelievable, perfection in every way, and their performance of the outstanding choreography was so moving…I can not do justice with words! You showed what my heart has always felt when my body is moving!!!!!

    8/4/2010 9:25 PM UTC

  41. karen - wrote:

    who got eliminated tonight

    8/5/2010 6:49 PM UTC

  42. j.c. snyder - wrote:

    Travis, I loved you in 2006 season sytycd, and now you are my favorite choreographer —-you have become a true artist, and I adore all your themes and messages. brilliant, and poignant. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK, AND IF YOU CAN KEEP ME IN YOUR LOOP, I WOULD love TO FOLLOW YOUR WORK….

    8/13/2010 8:54 PM UTC

  43. Christie - wrote:

    Travis you should so do a contemporary dance with the song: “Stranger” by Secondhand Serenade……It would give me goose bumps im sure!

    9/22/2010 6:33 AM UTC

Add Comment

* required