Travis Wall was at the lowest point of his life when his piece, “It Takes A Lot To Know A Man” was performed by Darius Hickman and SYTYCD all-star Taylor Sieve on So You Think You Can Dance during the 2018 season. “Last summer my entire life changed before my eyes and I was creating work on television in the middle of the lowest and the deepest cut of my life,” he explained in an EXCLUSIVE interview with HollywoodLife.com. At the same time, it happened to be the perfect timing, with the perfect contestant for Travis to bring to the stage a piece he had been working on for years — an exploration of gender and self-acceptance. Now, he’s nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Choreography for his contributions to the show during last season.
“It’s so powerful to just be able to create your own story through what you’re seeing, but when you’re watching the piece, it’s in your face and this is what we’re dealing with. This is the thing no one’s talking about,” Travis explained. “I like to touch on social issues. I like to do things that make people think, make people reflect on themselves, make people look in the mirror and say, ‘What do I think about this? Where do I stand on this issue? Do I agree? Am I going to listen?'” In “It Takes A Lot To Know A Man,” Darius begins the routine in full makeup and a dress while he dances with a female counterpart, who wears leggings and a white T-shirt. The full piece is a stunning commentary on the inner dialogue of human struggle when it comes to gender and the pressure of society’s “status quo.”
“Once it aired, people were like, ‘Finally, a piece like this is on So You Think You Can Dance and Darius can wear a dress if he wanted to, and he could dance however he wanted to, he didn’t have to be ‘masculine,'” Travis said of the major response to the performance. “For me, Darius was the most masculine because he was the most brave as himself. No one could dance like him in that moment.”
Most recently, the choreographer created a performance for SYTYCD that tackled gun violence, set to Harry Styles’s “Sign of the Times.” “I want to create art that matters and create the conversation instead of just for pure entertainment,” Travis continued.
Make sure to tune in to the Emmy Awards on September 22, 2019 at 8 PM ET on FOX.