Travis Wall Shares His Mother's Dance Magic In 'I Dream Of Dance'
Updated: May 23
Two-time Emmy Award-winning choreographer Travis Wall is a summer staple when it comes to viewing So You Think You Can Dance. Fans of the show wait for that epic Travis piece to transform a dancer from a contestant to a contender.
In the new documentary, I Dream of Dance, viewers get a better look at his story behind the scenes, even though the main focus of the film is on his mother, Denise Wall. Travis may be out there choreographing for his company, Shaping Sound, and SYTYCD, but he still spends time helping his mother and her students out at the studio, Denise Wall's Dance Energy.
"It's a process, especially because there are all eyes on the solo and some of these kids are great where they might win a title. They are going to be going up against other soloists that I do throughout the year," Travis said to Dance Dish recently. "There's a lot of pressure because my mom wants the best solos for her kids, of course. I need to handcraft a solo to challenge these kids throughout the year. I think a solo should always make you better, you have to conquer this choreography."
It was his mom who nurtured his choreography career, even at a young age. When she was working at her studio, she knew that putting an album on would keep young Travis busy until the music ended.
"The cassette tapes used to be my babysitter. She would put on a soundtrack and that would keep me occupied with me and a mirror making moves," he laughed. "No one had to watch over me because I wouldn't get into trouble. I kept myself occupied by choreographing at three years old."
Denise didn't just have an eye for spotting talent in her son, she also has taught many well-known dancers in the industry from So You Think You Can Dance All-Star Jaimie Goodwin to Danny Tidwell. Her magic isn't just in teaching technique.
"She sees every kid for who they are. She makes dancers out of people who probably weren't supposed to dance," Travis explained. "She nurtures the creator, the artist and the person inside you. Everything is created from love."
One thing Travis notes that is unique about Denise's students is that none of them are "Insta-famous." They aren't using social media to gain notoriety, they are doing the work behind the scenes to show their artistry.
"None of them have a crazy social media following. They aren't posting videos online for instant fame. What they use social media for is to keep up with everybody and being inspired by their friends," he said. They can see what their dance training is like and how they have improved. Social media shouldn't be used for validation."
Denise's students are making their mark on the dance world already. I Dream of Dance captures a remarkable underdog story in the film about Wyeth Walker, who now is a student at the University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance.
"This kid is my protegé. He's become my muse. That year, I've never seen anyone grow so much in my entire life," Travis raved. "That solo I created for him, I gave him the movement and bone structure. Where he took it to, he truly became an artist through that solo. It's the ultimate Cinderella success story."
The other Denise-trained dancer that stands out in the film is Morgan Higgins, who just won Senior Female Best Dancer at The National Dance Awards this summer. She's one to keep your eye out for if there's a Season 16 of SYTYCD.
"She speaks with her body. She can do everything, she's so special, she's so individualized, she's so artistic," he shared. "Morgan transcends me out of the space when I'm watching her dance. She's honestly one of my favorite dancers ever."
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