Travis Wall's Turning Tips

 

Since “So You Think You Can Dance” concluded last August, life has been moving at warp speed for runner-up Travis Wall. He participated in a large-scale tour with the rest of the show’s top 10, taught for New York City Dance Alliance and moved to L.A. from Virginia Beach. His head isn’t the only thing that’s been spinning—one of Travis’ trademarks is his breathtaking improvised turns. Here, he shares his coveted secrets on top turn technique with DS.

Dance Spirit: How did you learn to spot?

Travis Wall: With turns, I owe all respect to my mom. [Travis grew up dancing at his mom’s studio, Denise Wall’s Dance Energy, in Virginia Beach.] She is honestly a genius. [She taught me that] when you don’t spot, you get dizzy and you lose where you are in space. Spotting creates momentum, and that’s how you keep going. If you have a slow spot, you’ll only get around two or three times. When you whip your head, you can get around six or seven times.

DS: Along with spotting, how can you work toward more revolutions?

TW: It’s muscle memory. Constantly pull your left side over, keep spotting, [maintain] a high passé and pull in your arms to create less airspace. People hop on turns [because they have] no connection to the floor. You should press into the floor, creating a higher relevé. Everything has a science to it.

DS: For the equilibrium-challenged, do you have any special secrets for balance?

TW: Start by testing your balance in first position. Stay centered; your stomach muscles should always be engaged. People sit back in their hips, but your hip and stomach muscles are your core. That’s where everything comes from. If you pull up on a high relevé and [lengthen your] supporting knee, and your stomach muscles are engaged, you should be able to hold any position.

DS: On the flip side, what about off-balance turns?

TW: If your weight is shifted one way, there has to be a way to counterbalance the other side [by] using your arms or torso. Off-balance turns can’t really be taught. You have to make them up, improvise and find them for yourself.

DS: How can you keep control?

TW: Finishing and beginning a turn are the most important parts; there are creative ways to get in and out of the turn. When you’re turning, there is always that slow point. When it comes, you have to make up your mind if you’re going to finish in preparation, if you’re going to extend the leg, or if you’re going to hold the passé. I love to hold things after turns. It shows that you can control your turn and that you’re not just a “spinner” or “ice skater.” You’re a dancer with technique.

Latest Posts


Photo by Lindsay Thomas

Ashton Edwards Is Breaking Down Gender Barriers in Ballet

When Ashton Edwards was 3 years old, the Edwards family went to see a holiday production of The Nutcracker in their hometown, Flint, MI.

For the young child, it was love at first sight.

"I saw a beautiful, black Clara," Ashton says, "and I wanted to be just like her."

Ashton has dedicated 14 years of ballet training in pursuit of that childhood dream. But all the technical prowess in the world can't help Ashton surmount the biggest hurdle—this aspiring dancer was assigned male at birth, and for the vast majority of boys and men, performing in pointe shoes hasn't been a career option. But Ashton Edwards, who uses the pronouns "he" and "they," says it's high time to break down ballet's gender barrier, and their teachers and mentors believe this passionate dancer is just the person to lead the charge.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by Joe Pinchin, courtesy of Chicago Bulls

Chicago Luvabulls Coach Toya Ambrose Shares Tips for Making Your Dream Team

"Just be yourself." These three words became something of an in-car mantra for Toya Ambrose as she prepared to walk into her first audition in more than a few years. The role? Head coach of the Chicago Luvabulls, the official dance team of the Chicago Bulls.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

What Your Favorite Fall Beverage Says About You as a Dancer

Autumn is here, and we'd like nothing more than to curl up with a warm drink after a long day of class or rehearsal. But what are you choosing to fill your cup? Here's what your fall beverage pick says about you as a dancer.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search