Shaping Sound

By Chris Heide

When Travis Wall first came into public attention, he was a contestant on Season 2 of So You Think You Can Dance. Since finishing in second place on that season, Wall has created quite the name for himself within the world of contemporary dance, most recently through his elite company, Shaping Sound.  Now an Emmy Award winning choreographer, Wall displays tremendous maturity and depth in After The Curtain, the latest iteration from Shaping Sound.

Shaping Sound came into fruition in 2014 and was basically a collection of short pieces, similar to what is seen on So You Think You Can Dance. Now, three years later, After The Curtain is a completely different beast. The 90 minute show is one continuous story, where all of the numbers bleed seamlessly into each other.

After The Curtain is set in the 1940’s and is a show within a show.  It is the story of Vincent (Wall), the director of the show, and how his life unravels due to tragic circumstances on opening night.  Everything around him is pulling him apart.

The result is a hauntingly complex and beautiful show. Wall is both an expert choreographer and dancer: both of those skillset are on high display in After The Curtain.  In just 90 minutes, the shows tackles heartbreaking themes such as domestic violence, alcoholism, homosexuality, toxic relationships, grief and loss. It is not a light show by any means.

The show is peppered with high octane group numbers, interspersed between beautiful and nuanced partnering. All of the melancholy music used was specially created for this show, which serves to solidify themes presented.  It is a prime example of a story being effectively told through bold, dramatic movement.

After The Curtain is undoubtedly Travis Wall’s best body of work to date. It is dark, emotional,  beautifully paced and stunningly groundbreaking. It featured a glut of talented dancers, some of whom also participated on So You Think You Can Dance.  Wall is a tour-de-force and it will be exciting to see which innovative body of work he drums up next.