Travis Wall is one of our favorite people to ever grace the So You Think You Can Dance stage, both as a contestant and as a choreographer. Wetpaint Entertainment got the chance to chat exclusively with Travis, and he dished the dirt on Season 8's frontrunners, dark horses, and contestants we lost way too early.
Wetpaint Entertainment: Let's get right down to Season 8. Who is the clear frontrunner in your mind?
Travis Wall: For sure Melanie [Moore]. I just think from the start she's had everybody and not just because of her dancing ability — she's also so pure and so kind. I also think Sasha [Mallory]'s got a huge fanbase and she's pulling a lot of votes, and she's fierce. She has that fire — not that Melanie doesn't have that — but she has a whole other thing, so you can't compare the two. Technically, Melanie is better than Sasha, but it's kind of like, “Do you like Coke or do you like Pepsi?”
I also think Marko [Germar] is the strongest guy in the competition, and for little girls or guys who are voting for him, he's pulling the guy side of the show. Guys do get most of the votes in the competition, and I'd say it's probably him.
The judges have been raving about the girls this season. Aside from Marko, are there any other guys who could be a dark horse this season that the ladies need to look out for?
I think Jess [LeProtto]'s dancing is really good ... really good. I think people like him a lot, I just don't see him being too much of a dark horse, but I do see him making the finale. Most of the best dancers don't even make it to the finale, but I do see him making it, which is great.
But I feel like after I said it two weeks ago on the judging panel, “Melanie, you're my favorite dancer by far,” the next week Neil Patrick Harris said it, and then this week Lady Gaga said it, Rob Marshall said it, and Nigel and Mary, so I'm hoping it doesn't hurt her. Because sometimes you think, "Oh, she's everyone's favorite dancer, so she's going to be fine with votes." And then they go and vote for the other contestant, and then someone like Allison Holker, Season 2, gets voted off way too early because they thought she was safe.
But for now it's safe to say that Melanie is the one to beat?
I would say this about Melanie and her being the winner. If Melanie wins, it'll be the first time out of all eight seasons that from the beginning the fan favorite and the best dancer in the competition won. Because last season, I love Lauren [Froderman] and she should have won at the very end, but Alex Wong was in the beginning of the competition and he got hurt, and we always thought he was going to win. And every other season it's like the fan favorite and the best dancer never wins, but this season will be the first time.
From the beginning, from the get-go, we all said, "That girl [Melanie] should win." And we actually grew to love her, and she was a fan favorite, so everyone loved her. She's not just the best dancer, she's the favorite dancer. And if she wins, she'll be the first one.
So what do you think of the Top 10 in general? Is there anyone missing who you think deserved to be there?
Yes. The first week, we let go of some dancers who I feel could have had a lot of growth in this competition. I felt like Nick Young, the tapper, he was really good at jazz and he had the ballroom partner [Iveta Lukosiute], and they had that crazy thing where they kicked off four people. It was like, "What are you doing?" I also think Missy [Morelli] went way before her time … And then Miranda [Maleski]. I don't know why they did that, but Miranda is very talented and she's actually one of the best contemporary dancers in Los Angeles, technically. I think she could have been in the Top 10. But then I look at the Top 10 and I go, “Would I have taken any of those five girls out,” and I would probably say no.
The Top 5 girls are very strong, with Melanie and Sasha at the top of that list. And surprisingly Caitlynnn [Lawson]. I wasn't a fan of Caitlynn in the beginning, but the show does things for people like Caitlynn, to make them grow each week and change them into different dancers because they were never exposed to certain things before. Girls vote for her and guys vote for her. When you're a girl on this show, you can't be too intimidating because girls won't vote for you.
A couple weeks ago when you were guest judging, you mentioned Clarice Ordaz's amazing musicality, which is something we also noticed early on. Do you think the judges voted her off too soon?
Some of these dancers on the show had breakout moments, star moments that'll go down in history as best dances ever on SYTYCD. I don't know if it was because she was partnered with Jess, but to me, Clarice was the sexiest on stage — the way she looked and her ethnicity. She needed to be with a man, not a boy, and that bothered me. At the end of the day, there's really only boys left this season. The men were at the beginning of the season, and they were older. But I wanted her to have this moment with tWitch, this moment with Niel [Haskell], wanted her to get this all-star moment where I'm watching a man and woman dance, and I never got that.
Thank God she made Top 10, so she'll go on tour, but I felt like it was too short of a road. I wanted her to have that memorable, oh my God dance, and I wanted to give her that. I wanted to work with her. Because of her musicality, I couldn't wait to get her name out of the hat.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our exclusive interview with Travis Wall! In the meantime, share your thoughts on our SYTYCD Facebook fan page.