Richardson — Travis Wall talks hard, fast, and passionately when discussing the dance company, Shaping Sound, he co-founded with Nick Lazzarini and Teddy Forance. The five-time Emmy-nominated choreographer is most famously known for his work on So You Think You Can Dance, but it’s his latest production that fully encompasses who Wall is as an artist.
Shaping Sound is on its second leg of their tour performing After the Curtain. The company’s schedule runs like clockwork, covering 13 cities all over the U.S with only one day to travel, and a day and a half to setup in each theater. After a performance, when the clock strikes midnight, the cast packs up and drives through the night to their next destination. If it weren’t for the cast’s comradery and their shared hunger for performing, the company wouldn’t be able to survive the gauntlet.
“It really is such a collaborative effort of putting all these artists together in one space,” Wall says about his partners. “It’s beautiful.”
After the Curtain is the story of a silent film director striving to go on after the death of his love. Wall was inspired last year by his own hardships to spend five months writing the narrative of the show.
“I felt like everybody wanted everything that they could get from me creatively and they didn’t really care about me as a person,” Wall says. “That’s where I came up with the concept of this show where everything is basically tearing this man apart.”
The challenge Wall faced was breaking up the narrative to show different stages in the director’s story. Unlike in film, or even in a play, portraying flashbacks or separating a character’s inner thoughts from reality in a non-verbal art form is difficult. Wall addressed the issue by relying on music composed by Ryan Lott of Son Lux.
“His music is so eclectic,” Wall says, elatedly. “There are these beautiful strings and gorgeous orchestra sounds. Then you have this really messed up electronic music which is perfect when we go inside the director’s head.”
While Wall has had plenty of experience with delivering finished choreography within a tight deadline on So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars, the creative and rehearsal process for this production was especially tight. The cast had only 30 days to create the show and four days of running the production with lights, music, costumes and the set. To put things in perspective, Wall explained that a Broadway show has three weeks of tech rehearsals and a month of dress rehearsals.
Viewers can expect two things when watching After the Curtain: the characters’ storyline, rationale, and emotions will be authentic, and Wall has poured out his heart into the choreography. Just by talking to Wall it’s evident that nothing he says is contrived and that he gives freely of himself. When he reflects back on his early years and finding his choreographic voice Wall reveals that a lot of his journey stemmed from having an identity crisis.
“When I was realizing I was gay there was no way I could say it at first. How do I say it? How do I speak up? And how do I admit it to myself? Admit it to my family?” Wall asks. “I would lock myself into a studio and I would start choreographing because of these inner turmoils…frustrations.”
Wall found a way to communicate how he was feeling even when he couldn’t articulate exactly what it was he was feeling. It’s an impressive feat for a young person considering how many adults struggle with emotional intelligence.
“I think I’m just a narrative-driven person,” Wall says. “I truly believe you have to say something as to why you’re moving.”
What’s in store for Shaping Sound after the summer tour? For starters, fall and winter tours. Somewhere in between the traveling, tech rehearsals, and performing the cast will find time to be apart of an independent film focused on the company’s story. Wall expressed the desire to establish a permanent dance opportunity in Los Angeles, where the cast lives when they aren’t on tour. Wall is hoping to stage the show as an immersive experience where audience members will move with the characters backstage and onstage.
» Shaping Sound will perform at 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 8 at the The Charles W. Eisemann Center. Tickets can be purchased at www.eisemanncenter.com or by calling the Eisemann Center Ticket Office at 972-744-4650.