I Dream of Dance is the latest dance film to be released to the masses but it’s not just another dance flick, it’s a behind the scenes look at what really goes on in the world of competitive dance.
You’ve probably seen films like Step Up and Honey where the underdog comes out on top but what you’ve never seen is how long it takes to get to the point of greatness. It’s not all just good luck and being able to do cool tricks and spins. It takes years of perseverance, dedication and sacrifices.
I Dream of Dance shows you just that. It gives us a glimpse into the hard work and hours upon hours of practice to get that perfect move and nail the choreography. The film follows legendary dance teacher, Denise Wall and her studio as they train and prepare for Nationals, for which her son, two time Emmy wining choreographer Travis Wall, created amazing pieces.
We had the privilege of speaking with Travis to discuss the making of the documentary as well as getting some great advise for future generations of dancers.
Being as the documentary featured on Denise Wall Dance Energy, it was not hard to catch Travis in screen given that he’s a familiar face to the studio.
Wall mentions he ended up in the film just by “being near my mom . She had previously worked on some commercial with Auroris Media and they wanted to shoot a film about her. I had no idea what it would be about but I wanted to see the journey it would take. The passion and journey to Nationals. Seeing the kids and their dreams get made and some not get made.”
In I Dream of Dance we some amazing choreographies crates for students like Morgan and Wyeth as well as an emotive group dance titled “Hello Loneliness” so we were dying to know what his creative process is like.
“I take into consideration what stage each dancer is at beforehand. I find a piece of music that embodies the emotional journey I want to take them through and think of things that will show off each person’s skills. I also take their previous solos into consideration compared to those of other dancers and I try not to give the same solos to other dancers they will be competing with.”
“I am constantly challenging them to get better as dancers because of the solos they are given. Constantly pushing them to do better. It’s important to remember that when you’re dancing you should always be improving and getting better.”
Although the solos where exceptional, the main group performance was the piece de resistance. The documentary shows bits and pieces from the training process to the various competitions where members of Denise’s studio performed “Hello Loneliness.”. Travis talked a little about what that specific choreography meant to him.
“‘Hello Loneliness’ was an eight minute long piece. I wish it was shown in its entirety so you could see the full story and the journey. The story had a lot emotion to it. I think in cutting it up [viewers] miss the through line of the story.”
Although we don’t see it in its entirety, we do get glimpses as to the storyline it portrays and it is one that will leave your jaw slacked and with your heart in your throat.
It may seem as though success is easy to come by but I Dream of Dance shows what it takes to really achieve your dreams. Travis is a living example of just such a story as his oath to success wasn’t all that easy. Although he is an eight time Emmy nominated choreographer (for which he’s won twice already) he talked a little bit about the challenges he faced to get to where he is today.
“Even before auditioning for “So You Thunk You Can Dance,” I knew I wanted longevity as a dancer. I was already an aspiring choreographer going into he show.” Travis did not end up winning season 2 of the show but he was still part of the group of members that went on tour.
“While I was on tour I started having hip pain, i was only 18 at the time. When I went to the doctor, he said my hips were warped. There was no space between my hip bone and femur. It was basically a war zone with bon on bone contact.”
Travis was told that at the rate he was going, he would not be dancing by the age of 30. He realized he would not have the dancing career that he wanted. “I couldn’t tell the choreographers the pain I was going through when doing the dances. The only way to dance the way my body would let me was to create the dances myself. That’s when I knew i wanted to be a young choreographer instead.”
This challenge took him down a different path and to a journey he didn’t expect. “Embrace the obstacles that are thrown at you,” Wall expands, “if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be where or who I am today.”
There are many young, aspiring dancers who sometimes doubt their talents and abilities or let other people’s voices derail them from what they want to do. Or, even worse, they let the obstacles and failures rob them from their drive to continue dancing.
Seeing as Travis is someone a lot of the young generation looks up to, we asked him what he would say to those who struggle to reach their goals. “Work ethic is everything. You have to commit to get want you want. Be tenacious and passionate and driven. You can’t teach [work ethic], you have to strive for it. You can train your body but you have to work hard. [Dance abilities] won’t come to you if you don’t work hard.”
But what do you do with all the “no’s” and let downs? “Every rejection is a detour to another part of your life, to something else that’s supposed to happen. All detours are so you can arrive to where you’re supposed to be at with more awareness of what you’re doing. This applies not only to dance but also in relationships. It applies to everything in life.”
Considering the documentary, I Dream of Dance, showcases work ethic, drive, and tenacity as the students navigate the highs and lows of their training, we asked Travis what he hopes people walk away with after seeing the film.
“[I want people t see what happens] when you’re thrown in contact with someone that has human kindness and creates form love and teaches form love. See how this helps you grow. Dance is family, dance is love and sharing. I’ve seen some create form hate and pressure, saying you’re not good enough and will never be good enough and that creates the wrong type of artist. You have to create from Love. On any avenue you go into. Regardless wether it’s dance or not make a workable environment through love. Create through love.”
That’s advice that not only Travis, but also Denise Wall live by and it is noticeable in the film. Positive reinforcement is always the best motivation as demonstrated in I Dream of Dance.
Be sure to to stream I Dream of Dance now that it is available On Demand or purchase it on iTunes.