So You Think You Can Dance mentor blog: Travis Wall on the contestant who's 'the choreographer's dream' |


So You Think You Can Dance mentor blog: Travis Wall on the contestant who's 'the choreographer's dream'

(Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

What an episode! On both ends, there there were so many standouts—we saw so many good Stage dancers and so many good Street dancers. I felt like yesterday was a really amazing head-to-head preview of what the rest of the show’s going to feel like. All of the other cities had great standouts, but Los Angeles was packed with star performances.

Jim is incredible. You look at him and you see what he can do, and as a choreographer, you just get so excited. I cannot wait to get in a room with him and create with him. He’s just the choreographer’s dream. One of my huge aesthetics as a choreographer is strong technique. I love it. I wish I had that facilitymy body can’t do those things, so you just watch and you think, “Oh god, I wish I could do that.” So all of the things I think in my head that I want to do as a dancer, that’s why I became a choreographerbecause I can’t physically do those things, but I have them in my head, so I need to put them on somebody who can do them.

Avo was amazing, and he brings such a maturity to the show. He’s such a distinguished and grown ballet dancer. He has this maturity, and I love that. Of course I loved AllenI thought his energy was unbelievable, and we haven’t had that many great ballroom dancers on the show yet. And his story is incredible. When I went and saw him in Vegas, I didn’t know his story. Hearing his story and liking him as well, it’s crazy to think about how old he is and the things he’s gone through.

With Jacy, she is so beautiful. She’s one of the prettiest girls I’ve ever seen, and in Vegas, I didn’t know there was something up with her leg. Then she got closer, and then I found out what she actually went through and what the doctors were telling her. To completely fight against all odds of what you’re told that you’re going to doI have a family member who, when he was born, the doctors said that he would never walk and never do anything. He was an all-star pitcher for his high school baseball team. Doctors prepare you for the worst. It’s almost disheartening, and at the same time, it’s like, “You know what? I’m going to prove you wrong.” And that’s exactly what she did. It’s incredible how she can do it, especially when she jumps. It’s extraordinary what she’s been able to do, and if that’s not inspiring, I don’t know what is.

And of course then there’s Cody. Did that not just lift you up off your seat? I complain about way too many things. It just put things in perspective in terms of why someone loves to dance and why we dance and the effect it has on people. I was sitting there watching last night, and my boyfriend and I were like, “We take life way too for granted.” It just shows you why dance is so important and that you shouldn’t let anything hold you back, ever. Everything about that was so inspiring.

Dance is such a personal experience. It’s an emotional experienceto move your body in a certain way and to have intention behind it. Music moves me 100%. There’s reason to dance. There’s reason to express yourself. When you’re talking to somebody and you’re expressing yourself through words, you have intention and emotion behind it. You’re doing the same thing when you’re speaking with your body, and if that’s your way of communication and it’s suddenly taken away from you, you’re losing a part of yourself and something that brings joy to your life. You fight for it. If you can get it backif you can find any way to utilize that, even if it’s not the same way that used toit does bring part of your life back. It really is remarkable what dance can do to people’s lives.

One of the moments that got me was when Jacy came out and her mother was crying, and she was like, “I’m so proud of you.” Just to think about what her mother meantsaying, “I’m so proud of you,” saying, “From the moment you got in the car accident and I didn’t know if you were going to live, and through all of the surgeries and all of the physical therapy and your return to dance class, I wasn’t sure if you were going to hurt yourself, and you were just so resilient in getting what you wanted, and I’m just so proud.” They’re simple words, but if you think about what she meant by itwow. That moment got me for sure.

On the Street side, I love me some Jaja. She was not ready for the show last yearthey almost put her on, but because of  the format, she had to go through all of the other styles in Vegas to get on the show, and she wasn’t ready yet. I think she’s been training a lot this year and exposing herself to different styles. More than that, she came back with this confidence this year. It’s loud. It’s addictive. It’s contagious. She starts going, and it’s like, “Are you kidding me?” Of course I’m thinking, “Why does she have to be so good? Now I’ve got a lot of competition.” But there’s no sabotage here. I can only be proud of her. The resilience! This is so her year to be on the show.

And Asaf the “Hebrew breaker” has got to be one of the most gorgeous guys I’ve ever seen in my life. You don’t know what he’s going to do, and then he goes for it, and he’s an amazing breakdancer. I don’t know how he’s going to learn any choreography. As a choreographer, I would just be like, “You can stand there and look pretty, and I’ll have the girls dance around you.” But I’m interested to see how the breakdancers do in Vegas learning choreography. The greatest thing about this whole experience is that when we went to Vegas, we never saw anyone on the Street Team. The only thing I know is the people who are on the show now. I’m interested to see in the Vegas footage how the Street dancers are coping with choreographyhopefully they’ll show it. There are also some contestants who haven’t been shown yet, and I know how good they are.

Next is New York, and there are a couple auditions that are going to round out my Stage Team, so I’m excited. I’m also excited because I kind of know when I’m first going to be choreographing on the show, so I get to start planning that now. It’s starting to shape up! It’s going to be crazy.

As told to Kelly Connolly