Self-doubt and the fear of failure are the uncomfortable partners in the creative process of many dance choreographers. Choreographic icon Paul Taylor described feeling mild terror when starting a new dance work because of self-doubt. Another plagued by it is 2015 Emmy Award-winner (and six-time Emmy Award-nominee) Travis Wall of TV’s "So You Think You Can Dance" fame.
“To be very honest I am not the best at feeling confident [about my works],” Wall said via telephone from Los Angeles where he and his dance company Shaping Sound are prepping for a 31-city North American tour of their new show "After the Curtain."
“It’s the hardest show I have ever done,” said Wall who created, choreographed, directs and will star in the two-hour multimedia dance production that will pull into Shea’s Performing Arts Center on March 5. The company last performed here in 2014.
Founded in 2012 in Los Angeles by Wall, Nick Lazzarini, Teddy Forance and Kyle Robinson, Shaping Sound is a contemporary dance company in a style a la Wall’s and the others works on "SYTYCD."
"After the Curtain" tells the story of a man fighting to find his creative voice after the death of his one true love; a forbidden love. Set in the 1940s, it is a show about the creation of a show. It follows Wall’s character, the director of a new show, and what happens to him on and off stage as he battles grief, personal demons, societal pressures and copes with turmoil.
"After the Curtain" is set to a score of existing, re-imagined and original music by Ryan Lott, the creative genius behind the genre-melding band Son Lux.
"I have always been drawn to his music,” said Wall, adding he first started using it on "SYTYCD." “There are a lot of times I can’t find dynamics in a song as much as I find in his music.”
Wall said he had Lott’s music in mind when he created "After the Curtain" and that a stripped-down version of his song “Change is Everything” (off Son Lux’s 2015 album "Bones") that Lott improvised for him in his studio brought Wall to tears.
“I told him I wanted something that underlined and threaded through the entire show and wondered if he had a rawer version of 'Change is Everything,' " Wall said. “He turned to his piano and changing the song’s melody, just screamed his soul out. I was frozen in place. It completely altered the course of the show.”
While Lott and Son Lux’s music provides the emotional blood that courses through the show, Wall said he also shot for the moon when it came to sets, props, lighting and production value.
The production’s cast of 12, which features several "SYTYCD" alum including Wall (runner-up in season two), season one winner Lazzarini and season 12 winner Gaby Diaz, will perform in several dance styles such as contemporary and tap.
While Wall admits to sometimes letting self-doubt erode his confidence, he called "After the Curtain," the “best thing I have ever done.” Judging from his enthusiasm for the show, the company's return to Buffalo (the home of fellow "SYTYCD" alum Neil Haskel, now playing Charles Lee in Broadway’s "Hamilton"), promises to be a successful one.
What: Travis Wall's Shaping Sound
When: 6 p.m. March 5
Where: Shea's Performing Arts Center, 646 Main St.
Tickets: $30-$75 plus a $250 VIP experience
Info: sheas.org, ticketmaster.com