Travis Wall is sad to report that you will not see him in this week’s So You Think You Can Dance two-part finale. The Emmy-nominated choreographer, and season 2 SYTYCD runner-up, tells EW, “I was supposed to do the finale, but I had to cancel because I got the movie.” Indeed, Wall is currently in Miami creating contemporary pieces for Step Up 4, starring season 6 contestant, and season 7 and 8 All Star, Kathryn McCormick. “It’s my first movie to choreograph,” he says. “I’m really excited.”
But back to SYTYCD: After getting his first shot on the judges’ panel this year, who does he think should take the title of “America’s Favorite Dancer” this season?
“This is by far the strongest top four we’ve ever had,” notes Wall. “I’ve been pulling for Melanie [Moore] from day one. I feel that not only is she the best dancer, but her personality is great.”
Wall would also have wanted Moore as his partner if he had come back as an All-Star this season – a possibility that was in the works until his Step Up 4 schedule became a conflict. “If I hadn’t pulled out of the finale, I was going to choreograph and dance a number,” says Wall. “I really wanted to get Melanie and dance with her and choreograph it. That would have been amazing.” Still, his return as an All-Star-cum-choreographer is not completely off the table. He adds, “Hopefully we can look forward to it for next season!”
Wall hopes Moore can buck a SYTYCD trend of technically sophisticated dancers finishing second to dancers with outsize personalities. He cites his brother Danny Tidwell’s runner-up finish to Sabra Johnson in season 3. (Wall himself fell just short of toothsome West Coast Swing dancer Benji Schwimmer in season 2.) This year, “I just really want the best dancer to win, because she does have the best personality, too.”
Having worked with all four of this season’s finalists, Wall is quick to add, “I love Marko [Germar]. I think he’s amazing. I think he’s grown so much.” As for his favorite male competitor, though, he gives the edge to Tadd Gadduang, the dark horse B-boy with a flair for performing solos to unexpected songs like Gloria Estefan’s “1-2-3” and Harry Belafonte’s “Jump In The Line (Shake, Senora).” Says Wall, “When I did the ‘Brotsjór’ dance [for Tadd and then partner Jordan Casanova], he totally just pulled me in. I’m so proud of him for making the finale.”
Of his stint as a judge this season, 23-year-old Wall is still amazed. “If Nigel [Lythgoe, the show’s producer] looked back on the first time he saw me in my Charleston, S.C., audition, would he have ever thought, ‘This kid is going to be sitting next to me on the judges’ panel one day’? I don’t think so.” If nothing else, Wall landed the gig through sheer tenacity. “I told them when I didn’t win season 2, ‘I will choreograph for this show one day,’ and they gave me the chance to come back season 5, and I just took every opportunity and ran with it.” He says that the Dance team is like a family and jokes that he hopes that he has “made Papa Lythgoe proud.”
Wall’s duties on Step Up 4 conclude Nov. 1. After that, he’s mounting a theater show in Los Angeles and working on a reality show about launching a dance company. He also hopes to return to SYTYCD next season. “I had two more amazing routines in my back pocket. I was saving the best for last,” he teases. For Wall, the sky is the limit. “I didn’t think I’d ever be a judge. I didn’t think Nigel would consider me. But I had to swallow my words,” he says. He’s certainly game for another shot at another Emmy nod: “At this point, I’m like, ‘Now what?’ Maybe I’ll co-host with Cat [Deeley]!”