Travis Wall is the King of Dance

By Diane Anderson-Minshall

Originally published on Advocate.com August 30 2011 4:00 AM ET

Travis Wall was dancing in TV commercials before he even hit puberty, but now the dancer-choreographer is hitting the big time. A gay contestant turned choreographer and judge on So You Think You Can Dance, Wall is up for an Emmy Award for his work on the series. He’s also choreographed routines for the Academy Awards, MTV’s Video Music Awards, and Dancing With the Stars. He talks about aha moments, effeminate boys, and his new reality series, King of Dance.

The Advocate: Adam Lambert recently went on the record saying that American Idol asked him to keep his sexuality quiet. Is that kind of pressure common on reality competition shows? Have you ever experienced it personally?
Travis Wall: I wouldn't say I experienced it, but it’s kind of common sense, especially back when I was on the show, which was one of the first seasons. It’s obvious which demographics are not only watching but voting. I never felt it necessary to state I was gay. I wanted to make a statement with my talent alone, which was dancing. I didn't want attention on anything else except what I came to do — dance.

You told After Elton that some contestants on So You Think You Can Dance don’t realize they are gay until halfway through the show. What do you think it is about the competition that brings that “Oh, my God, I’m gay” moment?
I’ll say this: Sometimes when boys grow up through dance they are constantly defending themselves in school and at home about their sexuality. And until you pull them from that and put them in a comfortable environment, you sometimes don’t realize — or at least admit it to yourself — until you are given that opportunity.

I hear you and SYTYCD season 1 winner Nick Lazzarini are staring in a new reality show called King of Dance. What can you tell us about that series?
We are in the process of shooting our pilot episode. It’s being produced by World of Wonder, and the show centers around me and my best friends, Nick Lazzarini and Teddy Forance, living together and starting a dance company together. We work hard and play hard — lifting the curtain behind the scenes to what it is to actually make the transition from dancer to choreographer and showing the process of creating from the start to the final product. I’m excited!
 In 2008, SYTYCD judge Nigel Lythgoe said he didn’t like “effeminate boys that mince around the stage,” because male dancers “need to be strong.” Youre certainly not an effeminate guy. Do you agree with Lythgoe that male dancers — at least when their partners are female — need to be masculine?
Absolutely! Male dancers should always dance strong. I’m not a fan of feminine dancers unless it’s necessary with a character role, which probably won’t ever happen on SYTYCD [laughs]. I believe the guys should be a strong frame for the female, who is the picture.

What kind of impact do you think having people like yourself on competition shows has on young people watching from home?
I think there is a pretty big impact. I want to inspire other guy dancers at home that it is OK to dance and you can make a career out of it if it’s what you love to do. Anything is possible if you work your ass off. Nobody hands you anything. People give you opportunity and you have to prevail and own you.

You’re really hot. Do you get hit on constantly because of the show?
Ha, no, [it’s] kind of funny but I only get hit on by girls, which is hysterical. But yeah, I guess because I was on a reality show I seem intimidating, which is hilarious as well.TRAVIS WALL COMPOSITE X560 (FOX) | ADVOCATE.COM