Dancer. Choreographer. TV personality. All around great guy. Travis Wall rose to fame as a contestant on So You Think You Can Dance in 2006. Though the season 2 runner-up was known for his technical skills, it’s his capacity as an artist that leaves fans wanting more. We spoke with Travis to talk about his successful career and got his best dance and fitness advice, too!
ZLife: We know you had some early successes in dance (like, ya know, performing on Broadway by age 12!), but most of us came to know and love you on So You Think You Can Dance. What was it like competing on the show?
Travis: Hard work has always been instilled in me, and I’ve been working professionally since I was 9. I’ve always supported myself and those early experiences laid the groundwork for my career. Before the show, I knew I wanted to create, choreograph, and direct and that going on the show would catapult me to the next level. It gave me exposure and was a huge opportunity to prove myself.
I grew up on the show, and so did my choreography. Everything about me has matured since I started the show, and its extraordinary that I get to do what I love.
ZLife: It’s hard to pick a favorite routine, but what piece have you choreographed on the show that means the most to you?
Travis: I’m really proud of work I’ve done both on and off the show, but if I’m picking from SYTYCD work, Fix You stands out for me because it was the first time I put a piece of my soul on the show, given what was going on with my mom at the time – she was sick. Every step of the routine happened in real life. One time, I found her walking and barely able to move. I literally had to help move her legs for her – just as you see in that routine.
It was a really hard time. That piece was so meaningful because of everything we went through… and I ended up getting my first Emmy nomination for it, which makes it mean even more. I’ve come a long way since then, and I’m also very happy to report that my mom is now cancer free.
ZLife: That’s great to hear. I recently read that you said, “Creating is therapy.” How did you figure this out?
Travis: Well, when I was 16 I realized I was gay, and at that time I didn’t know how to confront it. I had a lot of built up feelings. I started choreographing – letting things out and physically moving around. Through that experience I found the most authentic version of myself.
ZLife: On to another serious topic – have you ever taken a Zumba® class?
Travis: I have! It was two or three years ago, an outdoor class that was part of an event. I’m almost always dancing or lifting weights, so I don’t get to take many group classes. But I had an amazing time trying Zumba®!
ZLife: Glad to hear it. Our instructors choreograph a lot of the material used in their classes. What advice do you have for them?
Travis: Know your audience. You want to offer something innovative but also extremely easy for people to grab onto. With fitness, it has to be fun! I hated working out until I met a trainer who made it enjoyable.
ZLife: Great advice. We’re so glad to get to know you better – what else should we know about Travis Wall?
Travis: I actually used to be extremely overweight, as a teenager. I’ve dealt with body image issues my whole life, which usually surprises people. My metabolism is pretty slow, so while working out has always been important, I’ve learned that diet is critical to staying healthy and happy.