So You Think You Can Dance brought a mass audience to love and appreciate dance. For Travis Wall, the reality competition was the start of his career. While he still choreographs for the show, he's now touring with his own dance company, Shaping Sound. Having just nabbed his sixth Emmy nomination for outstanding choreography, Wall is hopeful for a second win.
Freshly engaged to his boyfriend of five years, we caught up with the dancer to talk dancing, proposals, and children.
Out: How do you feel about your chances for another Emmy win?
Travis Wall: Honestly, you never know. Last year, I just went into a mentality that you can't really control it. You can hope for the best, but you really have no idea. I think to be nominated, you feel like you actually win. When you get down to it, it comes down to a couple people's opinions. But when the large majority nominates you, I think that's a win itself.
What new things from this year do you think give you an edge?
It's always really hard because So You Think You Can Dance is a summer show, and what we get nominated for is last year's work. At the same time, we're doing all this new work. So it's funny because all the work I've already done this year on the show, I like better than what I got nominated for last year. I always get excited for a nomination to come out, but then I can't wait to submit for next year's because I already love this stuff so much better.
You're used to choreographing on the spot. Do you prefer working under pressure like that?
I've just grown up working like that. Everything's kind of been on the spot. I choreograph in dance studios across the country. I feel like when I have a lot of time with dancers and it's not a three- to four-hour rush, that's when I'm creating all this content and material, and I'm able to use some of these ideas throughout the year. I'm always working with a group of dancers so I'm constantly exercising that muscle.
Is it difficult choreographing for camera and not an audience?
I don't think it's difficult. It's just a different challenge. Sometimes it excites people to choreograph for camera. For me, I choreograph for stage probably 85 percent of my year. When you have camera, you can highlight different things. You can take and show little details that many might not see from afar. So I feel like with camera, there's a lot more story telling involved, and I can keep some of the details smaller. When I do it on stage, the back of the house has to be able to see what I'm actually doing on stage. It's definitely a different challenge.
You've choreographed for a few celebrities including, Chelsea Handler and Drake. Is it difficult if they're not trained dancers?
When you do stuff like that, you're choreographing for an artist, which means that the dancing is not the star usually. You're not necessarily backup dancers, but you're making a picture around this one star, and sometimes the star doesn't dance. You have to create this entire moving piece of art around them and they're not dancing, they're just the focal point of the piece.
You also got engaged this year. How did the proposal go down?
It was an amazing day. His name's Dominic, and we've been dating for five years. I know I've been wanting to publicly propose for the past three years, but I just wanted to take my time and not feel like we were rushing into something. But I've known since pretty much the day I met him that I was going to marry him. On our five-year anniversary, I surprised him at work. I had this whole big day trip planned. We ended up going to the Catalina Islands for two days, and while that was happening, my friends were setting everything up back in LA. I took him to Malibu, and we walked the beach. When we turned the corner at the very end of the beach, it was like flowers and a hundred candles. He was completely blown away. In five years, I think I've only seen him cry once. He's not really a crier. I made him cry, and I felt like I did my job.
Do you guys have any wedding plans yet?
We're trying to figure that out. I think we're going to have a long engagement as well. We're just kind of milking the whole process. Right now, we're not really in agreement as to what part of the world we want to get married in. I want a destination wedding but both of our families are on the East Coast, and we live out here and all of our friends are on the West Coast. No matter where we go, everyone has to travel anyways. So we're really just trying to pick the best place and where we're going to get the most out of.
You've been dancing since you were a kid. Do you think if you two ever had a kid, you might want to train them to dance too?
Obviously, I would love a little Travis running around. That's definitely a goal of mine. But Dom's a gymnast, and I wouldn't mind putting them in gymnastics as well, especially with the Olympics going on. But you kind of have to see what they're going to be good at and what they're gravitating towards. If they would want to be a dancer, I would definitely push for it.
What do you have coming up with Shaping Sound?
Shaping Sound is going on the road this fall with our reoccurring show that we always do. I'm actually not going on the road this time. We have some amazing new dancers who just graduated high school and college, and they're going out on the road this fall. I'm writing a brand new show for Shaping Sound, and I'm touring that show in the spring.
There's been a few same-sex routines on So You Think You Can Dance. Is that more of a norm in the dance community that we don't see on TV?
Oh yeah. I've done a couple routines on So You Think You Can Dance like that. I actually won the Emmy for that last year where I was highlighting marriage equality. In my own dance company, we have men dancing together all the time in that sexual way. There's lots of that everywhere. It's hard to put it on television, especially a voted television show. It's a gray line because sometimes, you're trying to get votes. I just turn a blind eye to it because there's a lot of judgment on both sides of it. But for me, I'm trying to keep myself completely unedited. I don't care what someone else thinks. I don't care if I put something out there that people are going to be upset about. At this point, I'm just expressing myself and I'm also sharing a part of my life. I don't feel a reason to hide or edit any part of my life anymore. So I think that's definitely showing in my work.