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Out dancer Travis Wall leaps to new heights

Travis Wall may be having what’s known in sports as a “career year,” a time of high productivity when everything comes together. July is certainly a career month for the out dancer and choreographer.

Nominated for an Emmy Award as resident choreographer for the FOX television series “So You Think You Can Dance,” Wall saw the premiere of “All the Right Moves” last month. The reality series on the Oxygen cable network chronicles the adventures of Wall and three choreographer friends as they launch a dance company in Los Angeles called “Shaping Sound.”

The series, which premiered July 31, was preceded by the July 27 release “Step Up: Revolution,” the latest film in producer/choreographer Adam Shankman’s dance/romance series – and the first involving Wall. The producers saw Wall’s work on the Fox series and asked him to become one of the three choreographers for the production.

“It’s my first movie, and I was so excited to be there,” says Wall, 24. “There is more dancing in this one and it’s really great.”

Wall exudes enthusiasm for dance, and those who know his background understand his passion for what he calls “moveable art.” Wall has been dancing all his life and then some, a feat not surprising for the child of a dance instructor.

“I was literally dancing when I was in the womb,” the Virginia Beach, Va., native says. “Whenever my mom would put on music, I would be kicking and moving inside her.”

As an infant, Wall would spend his days in a crib in the dance studio as his mother taught. When he got older, his mother sequestered him in a separate room, plugged in a cassette tape and told Wall to develop a dance routine by the time the music ended 30 minutes later.

“She would let music be my babysitter,” says Wall. “I did my first routine at two years of age.”

At age 9, Wall appeared in a Dr. Pepper soft drink commercial, an opportunity he considers the turning point in his life. “I loved being on camera, and I knew dancing was something I wanted to do with my life,” he says.

When he was 12, Wall landed a part in the 2000 Broadway revival of “The Music Man.” He moved to New York City by himself, staying with various relatives and friends-of-friends during the show’s run. He credits his early independence with allowing him the freedom to follow the opportunities that eventually led him in 2006 to “So You Think You Can Dance.”

“I was a contestant during season two, and in 2009 they asked me to come on as resident choreographer,” says Wall, who also was invited back for next year.

But his work on the FOX series will have to coexist with his appearances on “All the Right Moves.” In the series, Wall shares a Glendale, Calif., house with lifelong friends Nick Lazzarini, who also appeared on “So You Think,” and Teddy Forance and Kyle Robinson, both of whom appeared on “Dancing With the Stars.” The four comprise Shaping Sound.

“Nick and I are gay and Teddy and Kyle are not, so there is something for everyone in the show,” Wall says.

Shaping Sound appeared May 8 at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, a performance that included 22 of Los Angeles’ hottest dancers and cost $70,000 to produce – more than three times what Wall and his friends anticipated paying. But Shaping Sound also sold out the Saban faster than any other performance in the venue’s history and the audience reception was overwhelmingly positive, he said.

“We received a standing ovation after the first act,” He enthused.

Wall hopes to become a director and producer in addition to being a choreographer. He’s more confident about his ability to create dance than to perform it.

“If I were a choreographer casting a show, I don’t know that I’d hire myself,” he admitted.

In the meantime, Wall and his friends are pleased at the renewed public enthusiasm in dance inspired by shows like “So You Think YouCanDance,” “Dancing With the Stars”– and, they hope,“ All the Right Moves.”

Wall is a strong supporter of multiple charities, including Dancers Responding to AIDS, which is devoted AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations; the Point Foundation, which provides financial support, mentoring and leadership training to students who are marginalized due to sexual orientation or gender identity; and the “So You Think You Can Dance” Dizzy Feet Foundation, which aims to increase dance education in the United States and help underprivileged youth realize their dreams of becoming professional dancers.

Capping off his career-high month, Wall performed July 28 at the Dizzy Feet Foundation “Celebration of Dance Gala” at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles.

“It’s my favorite of the charities I support because it’s sponsored by my boss,” Wall says.

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