Out dancer-choreographer Travis Wall brings Shaping Sound troupe to NT

Travis Wall was just 18 years old when he shot to the national spotlight as one of the most popular contestants ever on So You Think You Can Dance, becoming the runner-up on the second season of the show. That was nine years ago, though, and a lot has happened in the interim. In addition to returning to SYTYCD as a guest choreographer (and receiving an Emmy nomination for his work), he starred in a reality series called All the Right Moves, which tracked his efforts to found a new dance company called Shaping Sound.

It’s that company that is now occupying most of Wall’s, and it’s what brings him to North Texas this week for the second leg of Shaping Sound’s national tour.

We spoke with Wall by phone this week, and asked him how his style has changed since his reality TV days, whether his boyfriend is part of the act and what audiences have been like on the tour so far.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Dallas Voice: Your reality series, All the Right Moves, was about the founding of Shaping Sound …. Wall: That was the beginning of it, where the company first started. We really did all get a house together and were all gonna put shows together. That’s how the reality show came about. We did it for one season, so that was just a little glimpse of the idea we had. How it has evolved has been really mind-blowing. We are on our ­second national tour now.

What’s the tour like? Do you travel with your partner?  No, he’s a coach for UCLA so he can’t travel with me. The tour has been great — this is our second national tour. We did a lot of Texas on the first leg of this tour — Austin and Houston and El Paso — then a lot of east coast, including my hometown, Virginia Beach. Now we’re hitting the Midwest, Canada … it’s pretty darn cold!

It’s been warm in Dallas lately.  Awesome!

You were a teenager when you appeared on SYTYCD. Has your style changed since then?  Yeah, this summer will be the 10-year anniversary [of SYTYCD]. It’s crazy to think who I was on that show and how I was dancing then — I was just “turn, turn, turn” instead of finding real purpose in my movement. I kind of wish I had waited a bit [to appear on the show] because I didn’t really come into my own as a dancer until [after that]. Every year I evolve — you have to keep learning and keeping it fresh.

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You’re the artistic director of Shaping Sound, but do you also perform? 
Oh, yeah — I’m all over the show! [Laughs] You gotta give the fans what they want.

How do you describe it?  It’s definitely a dance experience. When you’re coming to see a dance company, you probably think you’re going to see a few pieces. But there’s really a full storyline taking place over two acts — [the audience] is going along this journey with one dancer. People will be blown away with the music selection, which includes lots of different kinds of music. There’s rock that gives us this edgy feel; there’s what we grew up with, like Broadway and jazz, and even classical which forces us to do more classical ballet. It’s really visual with beautiful bodies and beautiful lighting.

What have audiences been like?  We have these fans who follow us on social media and Instagram and really [turn up for our tour]. And the people who come to our show get loud. We love it when people are cheering and screaming.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 23, 2015.