Travis Wall (photo by Joe Toreno for Dance Spirit)
It seems like Travis Wall can do no wrong. From absolutely killing it on "So You Think You Can Dance" almost every single week to getting nominated for an(other) Emmy Award for Outstanding Choreography—his fourth—Wall is having one heck of a year. There's only one downside: The Emmy Award presentation for choreographers won't be broadcast live on TV à la last year. Instead, they'll be presented at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards this weekend—not on TV, not in the limelight.
I believe I speak for us all when I address the Emmy producers: BOOOOO.
But Wall is taking it all in stride, continuing to wow us on "So You Think" and gearing up for a second national tour with Shaping Sound. We talked with Wall before the Creative Arts Emmy Awards.
Are you pleased with the pieces that make up your Emmy nomination this year ("Hanging by a Thread," "Wicked Game" and "Medicine")?
I am! The "SYTYCD" producers submit choreographers for nomination, but they give us the chance to weigh in on the pieces they select to represent our body of work. So if I win, I win for all three routines. My favorite is definitely Wicked Games, which I choreographed for Amy Yakima. But I'm just so honored to be nominated again. I try not to think about it too much—it's so crazy.
Amy Yakima and Travis Wall in Wall's Wicked Games (photo Adam Rose/FOX)
What's next for you?
Right after "SYTYCD" finishes, Shaping Sound starts rehearsals for its next tour, which starts in October. We'll be stopping in more than 20 cities. I'm really excited for Shaping Sound to hit my hometown in Virginia so my family and everyone at my dance studio can see what I've created.
Is it a new show?
It has the same outline as our first production, but it will be an overall cleaner and better show. There are two new numbers, and lots of things throughout have evolved. We definitely want to keep it fresh. The cast is also changing—we held an audition earlier this week to fill a couple of male parts.
Shaping Sound Dance Company in That's Where I'll Be Waiting (photo by Charley Gallay, courtesy Shaping Sound)
What qualities do you look for in a dancer?
I love dancers who are unique. I look for someone who I believe can stand onstage alone and hold an audience's attention. I also like hiring people we already know. When we're on tour, we live, eat and breathe with one another. So we have to be able to get along. And of course, I'm always excited to see amazing technique and focus.
What are your goals beyond the tour?
I just always want to stay passionate about what I do. I work hard and put so much of myself into my work, so I hope to continue doing that. I have to stay focused. And I know that if I continue pushing myself, and stay on the same path, I'll achieve my biggest dreams ever.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?
Corbin Bleu in rehearsal for "Kiss Me, Kate" (Jenny Anderson, courtesy Roundabout Theatre Company)
If you're a hardcore Broadway baby, today is the worst Sunday of the year. Why, you ask? The Tony Awards were last Sunday, so basically there's nothing to look forward to in life anymore—no James Corden being James Corden, no teary acceptance speeches from newly minted stars, no thrilling excerpts from the hottest new shows. Oh yeah, and there are 50 more Sundays to go before our humdrum lives are once again blessed with the next annual iteration of Broadway's biggest night.