This 12 months’s Tremendous Bowl was watched by greater than 120 million individuals within the US, nearly as many as watched the moon landings. And within the half-time present, proper behind R&B celebrity Usher, there was Sean Bankhead dancing. “It was a extremely overwhelming sensory expertise,” says Bankhead. “It was sizzling, muggy, sweaty and it stunk like a soccer sport.”

Bankhead, 35, formally hung up his dancing sneakers just a few years in the past to give attention to choreography for the likes of Missy Elliott, Normani, Katy Perry, FKA twigs, latest Grammy winner Victoria Monét and Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion (whose 2021 Grammy efficiency of WAP he masterminded) however he couldn’t flip down the possibility to bop with Usher, one among his childhood heroes. “I tousled so many instances. We carried out on the precise grass and there have been chunks lacking. Nevertheless it was a rush.”

It has been fairly a 12 months for Bankhead to this point. In addition to the Tremendous Bowl, he choreographed Lil Nas X’s controversial J Christ video, and Canadian singer Tate McRae’s efficiency on the Brits. “I had a baaaaall on the Brits,” he says, in his Atlanta drawl. “The Brits are far more enjoyable than American awards reveals. I had no clue! There was an enormous get together and everybody was drunk as hell.”

Bankhead is the person of the second, however in some methods his fashion harks again to the music movies he grew up with within the 90s and 00s: Michael and Janet Jackson, Aaliyah, Britney Spears – that’s the place he discovered to bop, not taking a category till he was 16. “I didn’t even know what a choreographer was. I used to be simply so enamoured by what I used to be watching on TV.”

‘It’s time for choreographers to be financially recognised’ … Bankhead on the 2023 MTV video music awards. {Photograph}: Jeff Kravitz/Getty Photos for MTV

His training got here from going to golf equipment. Snap music was huge within the Atlanta hip-hop scene, catchy songs like Soulja Boy’s Crank That coming with their very own dance routines. “I may name myself a switch-hitter,” he says, borrowing a baseball time period for ambidextrous batting. “I went to the homosexual golf equipment and I noticed ballroom tradition up shut. I’d go to the ‘hood’ golf equipment and learn to do the ‘lean wit it, rock wit it’ dance. I’d go to the white golf equipment and thrash round like Britney and be taught my pop fashion, then go to reggae golf equipment and learn to do dancehall and Afrobeats. I’d all the time comply with the get together.”

All these influences make it into his dance work, however he’s additionally a skilled percussionist. “So I can create rhythms with my physique that match the beat or create my very own beat. Individuals are like, ‘Wow! The place did that rhythm come from?’”

At first making dance a profession appeared unimaginable. At auditions, he was “a younger skinny child and again then they had been searching for buff masculine dancers”. So he began posting his personal choreographies on YouTube. There’s one up there entitled Beyoncé Tour Submission – Bankhead didn’t wait to be requested, he simply put himself on the market. “I used to be so hungry and bold. I’d simply create, within the hope that somebody would see it.”

In the end, it labored. Lately Bankhead works with a few of music’s greatest artists, together with Beyoncé. For diamond-selling rapper Cardi B, he choreographed the movies Up and Bongos, that includes Megan Thee Stallion. Each have putting dance routines however are additionally unapologetic flesh-fests, with curves escaping from bikinis and quite a lot of booty – the strikes as specific because the lyrics. Does Bankhead ever have the dialog: how attractive is simply too attractive?

“We don’t,” he says. “In reality, it’s often extra like, ‘I need to present extra ass and I need to present extra crotch.’ They don’t seem to be ashamed of their our bodies, they love their sexuality. And I’m proper there supporting them.”

He insists that Cardi B, whose performing persona is uber-confident and a tad intimidating, is de facto “so candy, so type, the shyest particular person”. He says the identical about himself. “I’m very reserved, very chill. However you then see my work and assume, ‘He should be some fabulous diva.’”

Unapologetic flesh-fest … the video for Cardi B’s Bongos, that includes Megan Thee Stallion.

With rapper Lil Nas X, Bankhead labored on the “creatively ballsy” video for the track Trade Child. Set in a jail, it featured a unadorned dance routine within the showers (tastefully pixelated). This was the ultimate scene of a two-day shoot, on an out of doors set. “It’s loopy, it’s freezing, it’s three within the morning,” he remembers. “Individuals had been slipping and falling. I stripped right down to my underwear and was leaping and screaming simply to make them really feel extra comfy.”

Bankhead’s received an eye fixed for a viral second. The #OnMyMamaChallenge he created with Victoria Monét on TikTok has had greater than 150 million views. Visuals and choreography “could make or break music”, he says. So are choreographers getting sufficient credit score? “Sure and no. It’s time for us to be financially recognised. Songwriters will receives a commission for the remainder of their lives in the event that they write a success track. However choreographers don’t get any kind of residual revenue once we create a viral dance that makes the track blow up. I get a flat price. I might be owed thousands and thousands.”

Partly for that motive, Bankhead is now trying to construct his personal model. He’s received plans for TV reveals and style collaborations. You may count on to see him in entrance of the digital camera quickly. If Bankhead has discovered something, it’s that nothing occurs except you place your self on the market.


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