You’ve seen his moves, you’ve seen him dance, now you can enjoy him up close and personal for a sit down conversation and an exclusive photo shoot with Ferrvor Magazine and photographer Kaleb Khu.
With an addictive optimism that even Tony Robbins would be envious of, Travis Michael Wall is known to most of us as the dancer and choreographer from the hit Fox Network television show, “So You Think You Can Dance” where he was also nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Choreography. In 2012 he starred in the Oxygen reality show, “All The Right Moves”, where he showed the world the ins and outs of launching his own dance studio along with fellow dance comrades, Teddy Forance, Nick Lazzarini and Kyle Robinson, called Shaping Sound.
Written By: Christian Burkholder
Photographer: Kaleb Khu
Stylist: Apuje Kalu
Styling Assistant: Brandon Gray
Grooming: Bridget O’Donnell
After Mr. Khu’s photo shoot with Travis at Casa De Ferrvor, we got a chance to sit down with the Virginia Beach-born dancing star and ask him a few of our favorite questions about menswear, fashion, and what makes Travis Wall go bang.
Complete the sentence. Travis wall is a…?
T: Travis Wall is a visual musician.
An Emmy is a big deal, what does an Emmy nomination mean to you?
T: Being nominated is a win on its own. There are hundreds of choreography submissions in our industry, from reality-based dance shows, sitcoms, award performance shows, and all of these huge events that require choreography. To be selected as one of the best of that year is a complete honor. It’s truly amazing that you can be considered for the work you passionately put out. Typically, these passion pieces have a lot to do with my life at the time and to have them recognized means the world to me. It’s unreal to stop and think of the company I am being nominated with, including past nominees and winners, these are people that I’ve looked up to and have considered mentors. To be a part of this group is a dream come true on its own.
I can only imagine. Truly a huge accomplishment.
You do a lot of performing throughout the states, if you and your dance company, Shaping Sound, could perform at any place in the world, where would it be and why?
T: We really want to tour Europe. I was just in Europe this past spring for vacation, but because of budget reasons, it makes it hard for our entire company to tour there. We’re a fairly expensive company to travel. We have 14 dancers, sets, props, crew members and that can cost a lot of money to produce. We started the dance company because we wanted to dance with our best friends. We’ve toured the US and Canada, but we are ready to expose the rest of the world to our work. We want people who may not know us as well, or at all to see the show. Touring in general is like a paid vacation, so to be able to tour in places like Italy, Germany, Ireland, Greece, France, Spain for a big Euro trip would be amazing.
How do you feel your dance company Shaping Sound has possibly helped change and influence the dance community today?
T: I didn’t realize how great our influence was until recently. It’s not just within the dance community, but within the arts community as well. With Shaping Sound you’re coming to see more than just a dance show, it’s a theatrical experience. It is crazy see us sell out 2,500 seat theaters that big Broadway shows and recording artists perform at. We are constantly creating opportunities to keep dancers employed, plus we get to share our love of dance and movement on a regular basis. My hope is that when people see the show, they leave inspired and it leads them to create something for themselves. When we first started, we worried about being able to find an audience and sustain that audience and also build momentum, hopefully our success shows people that it’s definitely possible. I truly believe it’s about to explode into something even bigger.
Most artists draw inspiration from a myriad of difference sources. Where do you find your inspiration?
T: A lot of times it’s my personal life. Personal demons, friendships, day to day life or anything like that, because they are so real and authentic. I also love to pull inspiration from music, movies, pictures or all other forms of art. I think I tend to pull from a darker place, at times. I live a very happy life, but I am usually inspired from dark moments in life. I’m a huge dreamer. Sometimes I have nightmares every night, sometimes about aliens, tornadoes, earthquake, saving people…. but really crazy dreams. It’s a bit crazy to live in my head.
What would you say are your top three most memorable experiences in your dancing career thus far?
T: I’d say first is moving to New York at the age of 12 to work on the Broadway musical, The Music Man. I moved away from my family because my mom couldn’t leave her kids or her dance studio at home in Virginia Beach. It completely shaped me into who I am today. I lived there from about 12 to 14 years old, and in those 2 years, I moved about eight times because my living situations never really worked out. But, I did what I had to do and grew up. It was a defining moment because it gave me at taste of the hustle. Having to grow up at such a young age and having to deal with these adult scenarios made me feel like I was living a life that was way older than what I actually was. It launched me into a work monster and that made me who I am now.
My second experience would be winning the Emmy last year. It summed up my experience at SYTYCD. I went to audition as an 18-year-old, with a dream of winning the show but was worried what everyone would think of my dancing, my personality or even my sexuality. Then I started choreographing after the show, which led to being asked back to the show as a choreographer, which eventually lead to the Emmy noms and the win last year! Thinking about the moment when I auditioned for the show, and to flash forward 8 years later to the Emmy win, it really just summed up the entire experience for me and how much that show has changed my life.
My third experience would be just this past month. I put together an hour long show here in Los Angeles with only 32 hours of rehearsal time. The show itself was about my father neglecting me as a child and the ripple effect it had on me throughout my life. To see my life played out in full color on stage in front of friends, family and colleagues was unreal. It my favorite moment on stage and was a good 28 years of therapy in about one hour for me. I found out who I was as an artist, a human and as a person through doing that show. I felt like I had arrived into who I was meant to be.
Left: Shirt + Pants: Rag & Bone Shoes: Moods of Norway Ring + Bracelet: Stylist’s Own | Right: Suit: TopMan Shirt: Theory Shoes: Creative Recreation Bracelet: TopMan
As you know by now, at Ferrvor magazine, we appreciate a gentleman’s gentlemen. Someone with style, sophistication and confidence. In your own words what do you think being a Gentleman is?
T: I feel like a gentleman is someone who has manners. Someone who holds doors for others in and out of Starbucks, haha. I truly believe you treat others the way you want to be treated. I think what the world needs now is a lot of love and positivity and a gentleman should display that.
We couldn’t agree more. Incidentally, we love your style on and off the camera.
Who, what, and where do you draw your sense of style from?
T: Back in the day, in my late teens and early 20s, I was trying to find every outlet in the world to express myself, from crazy hair to crazy outfits, I would constantly be trying to find out who I was as a person. Nowadays, I’ve toned it down a bit. It’s all a little classier, and as handsome, as possible. I struggle with self-confidence, so I try to find clothes that make me feel good. I love wearing a suit. I love that classic look. I try to add a pop of color or something, to honor the younger Travis.
With all the attention, you must want to get away from it all once in awhile. What’ is a favorite place to escape and recharge?
T: I love Hawaii, particularly Maui. Growing up we never really went on vacations, so at 19 years old I decided to take myself on an exotic vacation. The minute I stepped off the plane I felt like I was in paradise and there is no feeling like the first time you step into paradise. I also love Big Sur. Such a nice quick getaway. Having that fresh air and no service is a great way to recharge.
Your definition of Love would be what?
T: Love is simple. It is true, it is honest. If you love yourself, you can truly love other people. Someone can help you find the way of loving, but it’s a self-care that you have to get through to be able to open it up.
What’s your favorite tattoo located on your body and if that tattoo could tell us a story what would it be?
T: I think my favorite tattoo is my first big piece I ever got. It’s my wing tattoo from my right shoulder blade down to my elbow. I was 20 years old and the tattoo artist, Joey Nobody in Virginia Beach free-handed it. I’m obsessed with birds and eagles and my biggest dream is to fly. I like to say the only reason I can’t fly is because I only have one wing.
Left:Jacket: Beautiful Fül Shirt + Pants: Theory Shoes: Mezlan Bracelet: Stylist’s Own | Right: Watch: Hugo Boss Necklace: H&M
If you could compare being on set with our Photographer, Kaleb Khu, to a favorite dance, what comes to mind?
T: Gangnam Style! Haha
Now that’s funny, but dare I say, pretty darn accurate!
What advice would you give to your younger self?
T: If I truly were to give myself advice, I would say save your money, figure out what taxes are and get that done the minute you turn 18. No one really tells you about taxes or real world stuff growing up. I would tell myself to learn about all things finance-related.
Do you have any Favorite inspirational quotes that get you going that you can share with us?
T: “You are the driver of your own bus” based off of The Energy Bus. Really helps when I’m behind on my positivity.
Jacket + Shirt + Pants: TopMan
I’m a believer in inspiring others much like you. For those that want to pursue a similar dream of being a great dancer, what would be your advice to them be?
T: Know what you want and know what you want to do. I don’t think anyone’s dream is really the same so find what you really want and do everything you can do get there. Growing, taking class, exposing yourself to anything and everything possible.
And finally as our session comes to a close, can you share what’s next on Travis’ adventure?
T: My schedule is constantly changing, but I am looking forward to the new show for Shaping Sound which will premiere in March! Other than that I’m working on staying healthy to make sure I can continue doing what I love to do.
And with that, Ferrvor out.