So You Think You Can Dance mentor blog: Travis Wall admits he's 'nervous' about Team Street
I was really excited about Vegas callbacks because they started to show more dancers in my top 10, and I choreographed the contemporary round. Everybody picked up my choreography pretty well, but the Broadway round was kind of the bloodbath moment for Team Stage. That was our biggest round that we cut.
Moises danced for his life after Broadway, and I completely disagree with Paula and Jason, especially Paula, on his solo. I think Moises is incredible. He took Paula’s note to dance like a man, and I thought he did. But he doesn’t look like Thor. He’s got a certain body type. After his solo, I was expecting the judges to be like, “Oh my god, there you go!” But only Nigel said anything like that when he named Moises as one of his imaginary top 10. Nigel and I were on the same page there.
The dance-for-your-life solos are a complete fight. You’re saying, “Please, this is my last chance to show you everything and make sure you see how special I am.” I thought Moises absolutely did that. On the Stage side, we didn’t have very many dance-for-your-life solos. Usually on the show, you’re coming from a different style, so if you do badly at contemporary but you’re a hip-hop dancer, they usually tell you to dance for your life. But in this format, everyone is close to their style. If you don’t do well in the choreography round of your style, then we’ve seen all we can see from you.
I’m going to be completely honest: I’m really nervous about how good the Street girls are. They’re so good. I know Twitch was telling me how good they are, but they’re really, really good. I think from looking at the competition that my Stage boys are a lot better than his Street boys, but his Street girls are definitely going to give my Stage girls a run for their money.
From their dancing, I can tell the Street girls are pretty well rounded, too. There are two Street girls who are actually stage dancers. That’s where it gets into a grey area — when they’re trained dancers, but they choose to be on the street side. But they’re incredible. They’re talented; they’re beautiful. I’m nervous.
But thinking about my friends who are choreographing on the show, thank god we’ll have people, when we have to choreograph the Street team, who can pick up contemporary. So for Sonya Tayeh and Stacey Tookey and Mandy Moore and all of my friends, at least if they get one of those girls, they’ll be able to do the choreography. They’ll be able to create on them.
In a sea of contemporary dancers, which a lot of the Stage team was, you’re rooting for the people who aren’t contemporary, like Antonina. A lot of ballroom dancers reached out to me, like, “Can you please help me on this? How do I get through?” And I’m telling them, “Listen, we’re rooting for you to get through. If you’re able to pick up the choreography and you’re able to show within an hour that you can slightly resemble what it’s supposed to look like, you’re going to be fine. We’re going to be harder on the contemporary dancers in this round, because we’re expecting them to be incredible at this, so just pick it up and don’t freak out.” Antonina did that.
As far as the ballroom goes, to be honest, Allen was definitely top 10 material, especially from his audition. His personality was huge, which is everything on my end. He was a really nice guy. And he was a ballroom dancer—we needed to round out our top 10 with variety, not just contemporary dancers. His story was incredible, and then he went down. It was a previous injury, so supposedly he didn’t really hurt it in Vegas. It just kind of flared up. His foot was already fractured and he didn’t know it.
And then Edson—that gave me a heart attack, because I was really keeping my eye out for Edson. I saw him dancing in the ballroom and I was like, “What is this guy doing?” He had such a strong solo and was so strong in my round, and then he’s two counts behind everyone. I’m thinking, “Am I going to have to pull a save card? He’s so much better than this.” And then he goes down on the floor. I knew it was a cramp right away, because I’ve seen that happen to a lot of people, especially in Vegas. You don’t realize how many times a trained dancer cramps. They’re not eating, they’re completely exhausted, they’re dehydrated—we’re throwing bananas at them left and right. You can’t just constantly be eating bananas. That can’t be your only meal.
Watching Vegas, I’m like, “I’m so serious!” I completely forgot cameras were there when I was watching the solos. There are some times when the camera goes on my face and my eyes look like daggers, and I’m just literally reading everybody inside out. The judges had seen everyone before they got to Vegas, but I had two seconds to figure out if I liked somebody or not. It was as crazy as it looked. It was definitely intense, and I can tell that I was very stressed out picking people.
I think next Monday is going to be an even bigger bloodbath. We’re going to lose really good dancers because at that point everyone’s amazing, and the judges have very different opinions on who they like and who they don’t like. I can only advise them in certain ways. I try to stick up for certain people, and it gets a little intense.
But tWitch’s Magic Mike XXL plug was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I was like, “Oh God, he’s unbuttoning his shirt. This isn’t fair. This is a total Team Street advantage here. I’m not undressing myself, I’m not in Magic Mike, I’m not dancing next to Matt Bomer—even though I wish I was. This is completely unfair. I’ve got to figure out what I’m plugging next week.
As told to Kelly Connolly