Celebrity Health: Dancing Through the Pain
Travis Wall, former ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ competitor and professional choreographer, conquers hip pain daily
Travis Wall knows his days as a dancer are numbered. This talented young man, who first appeared on the second season of “So You Think You Can Dance” as a competitor, came in second place and has since gone on to earn three Emmy nominations for his choreography on “SYTYCD” and “Dancing With the Stars”, has struggled with a birth defect for years. While you wouldn’t know it by looking at him, Wall feels the effects.
“My hips were jammed when they were born, I had no movement in my hip socket,” he says. “The space between the hips created a lot of scar tissue and bone spurs because I was told from my doctor that I was trying to rotate bone on bone. I was told to keep active or the hips would not move.”
It was a scary diagnosis for the dancer, who has been dancing since he was three years old under his mother’s tutelage at her dance studio. “I would come home from school and dance from 4 to 10 pm every night,” he says.
Although this is a life-changing diagnosis, Wall isn’t new to injuries that affect his body. “When I did a Broadway show, I had ripped my growth plate in my knee and needed six to eight months of physical therapy,” he says. “I had to start from scratch and lost all flexibility.
Like any dancer, he listens to his body to keep it well nourished and in shape, but he knows his limitations. “I have a really slow metabolism and cannot eat carbs,” he says. “When I do a show I have to eat more vegetables and protein, especially as I get older. My body is breaking down a little, so I do physical therapy and Gyrotonics for my hips and joints. It gives me mobility.”
The “SYTYCD tour took a toll on his body too. “That’s when I found out about my hip problems,” he says. “We did 35 shows in about a month and a half. The show was very hard, and I was in almost every number. The stages weren’t the greatest dance floors either. I sweat so much during that entire show, but I was lifting the girls and my body was the most ripped it’s ever been.”
From the way he speaks about his body and aging, you might think he’s been in this business for decades, but the week we spoke, Wall turned 26 years old. However, in such a short period of time, Wall has accomplished so much beyond his “So You Think You Can Dance” season. He starred in the reality show “All the Right Moves” on Oxygen, where he and three others launched their dance company Shaping Sound. He assisted Drake with choreography for the “2010 MTV Video Music Awards”, and has worked with Florence and the Machine, Chelsea Handler, Eminem and Rihanna.
“I moved into choreography because I knew my dance career was going to be short-lived,” he says. “I can still dance really well, but I have to be smart as to the choices I make. On an audition, they’ll ask you to do things that I may not be able to do, so I made a transition.”
He admits that with all the great things going on in his life, he can become overwhelmed with anxiety and stress. “I’m definitely a stress eater,” he says. “I’m trying to learn how to deal with stress and anxiety.”
He still has goals of choreographing a live show for a recording artist, an entire Broadway show and a show for the Vegas stage. “Lots of things still to achieve,” he says.
Like a composer who hears the music in his head, Wall says that his amazing choreography routines can come simply from hearing a song. “Music inspires me and I’ll hear a song and create something visually,” he says. “Sometimes the number comes from something that’s happened to me in the year and portrays a story, but definitely I ‘see’ everything first in my head. It’s hard to turn it off.”
Hopefully, for the sake of the viewers, he won’t.
© CTW Features