PLAYBILL BRIEF ENCOUNTER With "SYTYCD" Dancer and Choreographer Travis Wall, Shaping Sound Across the States

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15 Jun 2013

Travis Wall
Travis Wall
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Travis Wall, an Emmy Award nominee for his work on the hit reality television show "So You Think You Can Dance" and choreographer of the Off-Broadway rock musical Bare, wraps up his first national tour of Shaping Sound June 17 in New York City.


When Travis Wall was a child, he danced in the chorus of the Tony Award-nominated Best Revival of The Music Man. He went on to compete in the second season of the reality television series "So You Think You Can Dance" in 2007 (where he finished as runner-up); choreographed for the show in 2010, earning an Emmy Award nomination for his work; and was enlisted by the creative team of the Off-Broadway rock musical Bare to provide expressive movement for angst-ridden teens coming of age in a Catholic boarding school. Wall was also featured on the Oxygen reality show "All the Right Moves," which chronicled the formation of Shaping Sound, the contemporary dance company of "visual musicians" that is currently traveling the United States. Shaping Sound culminates its 13-city tour at New York City's Beacon Theatre, where Wall will take the stage with his company members and friends to fuse storytelling with styles of jazz, modern, ballet and hip hop dance. The artist spoke with about his dance endeavors and the New York City engagement, which will take place June 17.

Tell me about your journey with Shaping Sound. You started with "All the Right Moves" on Oxygen…
Travis Wall: Well, I did a dance performance on [the ABC dance competition] "Dancing With the Stars" about three years ago. It was something that I choreographed, and I hired all my best friends to do it. After we were finished with the performance — it was an amazing performance, first of all — we [thought], "How can we make this happen every day — us all dancing together?" We wanted to put a couple shows [up] in L.A. and put our work out there and let everyone know that we were going to start working together [professionally]. And, it kind of exploded. We were approached about doing a reality show and [said], "Yeah, sure!" … So that's how "All the Right Moves" started. From the TV show, we got this first national tour…and it's unbelievable. We've been selling out almost every theatre we've gone to. The crowd's reaction at the very end — it's been so exhilarating. To have a piece of work that's your own [and] that's touring is extraordinary.

In Shaping Sound, you call yourselves "visual musicians." Can you describe that term and where it came from?
TW: [My] biggest attribute to the company — and especially my choreography — is my musicality. I'm not just storytelling, but it's the way I portray music. I am a musician, and I can take music and show you exactly how it sounds — either with a group of bodies or just one body. I feel like I do create music with my body and therefore, being a "visual musician," I make the music come to life. That's how we got the company name Shaping Sound — we're a very music-driven company. Our musicality is a focal point.

Aspects of musicality and storytelling were evident in the choreography you did for Bare. I love watching stories come to life through dance.
TW: That's what's great about this show. There's a full story. There are two acts. It's a full, thought-out concept. It's a real story all the way through. We stay the same characters throughout the entire show, and it's been so much fun to play.

Tell me about your dance beginnings. How old were you when you started to take class?
TW: I pretty much came out dancing. [Laughs.] But I was three when I started real class at my mother's dance studio. My mom had a crib at the studio [when I was] five days old. All I know is dance! … My mom was my dance teacher. She had a dance studio in Virginia Beach — Denise Wall's Dance Energy — and I was raised up in that studio.


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