Charleston Dance Festival to feature hip-hop courses with choreographer Sean Bankhead + video

eshaw@islandpacket.comDecember 5, 2013 

Dancer and choreographer Sean Bankhead, 24, was discovered on YouTube. He now juggles teaching classes, filming for TLC's "Dance Kids ATL" and professional gigs.

SUBMITTED PHOTO

  • IF YOU GO

    WHAT: Charleston Dance Festival, featuring dancer and choreographer Sean Bankhead

    WHEN: Dec. 9-15. Sean Bankhead will teach two classes on Dec. 13. The intermediate class is 6:00-7:15 p.m. The advanced class 7:15-8:30 p.m. The hip hop battle is at 9 p.m. Dec. 13.

    WHERE: Festival classes will take place at the Dancefx Studios at 635 Rutledge Ave. and the College of Charleston School of the Arts on St. Philip Street between Calhoun and George streets. Thursday's performance will take place at Redux Contemporary Art Center, 136 St. Philip St. Friday's classes with Sean Bankhead, the Hip-Hop Battle and Saturday's "Performance Showcase" will take place at the Memminger Auditorium, 56 Beaufain St.

    COST: A single class with Sean Bankhead is $30; both classes are $50. Price includes a ticket to the Hip Hop Battle. All tickets for performance events are $15.

    DETAILS: The full list of Master classes and Master instructors, as well as a comprehensive list of the festival performances may be found at the festival website, www.charlestondancefestival.com.

Sean Bankhead likes to say that he didn't choose hip-hop. It chose him.

"I love music, and I love dancing. I've been doing it since I was two years old," the 24-year-old self-taught dancer said. "I've always naturally been drawn to Michael Jackson and Janet (Jackson) and Missy Elliot. It speaks to me and makes me dance."

Bankhead was discovered in 2005 on YouTube, and now makes a living teaching others the ins and outs of breaking, popping and locking. After his first dance video received more than a million views, Bankhead rocketed to hip-hop fame, working as a dancer and choreographer for artists including Beyonce, Drake and Britney Spears.

For the second year of the Charleston Dance Festival, organizers recruited Bankhead's hip-hop expertise. He will teach two hip-hop classes on Dec. 13 and will also be a judge for the festival's Hip-Hop Battle that same day.

Created by the 6-year-old studio Dancefx Charleston and the Charleston Dance Alliance, the festival boasts a week of performances, lectures, master classes and competitions from Dec. 9 through Dec. 15.

"Our hip-hop focus needed a strong commercial industry presence, and Sean Bankhead definitely fit the bill," said Jenny Broe, executive director of Dancefx Charleston. Bankhead has close ties with the studio's sister company in Georgia, Dancefx Athens.

Bankhead is also the choreographer on "Dance Kids ATL," a "Dance Moms"-esque reality show about talented young hip-hop dancers from Dance 411 studio in Atlanta. The show debuted this summer on TLC.

"We were aware of his new venture 'Dance Kids ATL' on TLC and thought what a great time to get him in here as I'm sure he will blow up and become more difficult to book for future dates," Broe said. "We needed to strike while the iron was hot."

Bankhead is definitely in demand as of late. He was most recently a dancer and contributing choreographer for this year's Soul Train Awards on BET. He schedule is filled by his work with 'Dance Kids ATL,' his professional dancing and his various teaching obligations.

Bankhead said he especially enjoys teaching children.

"You're trying to influence a new generation," he said. "You want to give them the right information to set them up for their careers."

For his classes at the Charleston Dance Festival, Bankhead said one will probably focus on more hard-hitting "hood" hip-hop, and the second will be more smooth and crisp.

"We'll have fun with it. I like to have fun in my class," he said.

For the hip-hop battle, Bankhead said he'll be looking for dancers who can showcase diversity of movement.

"I like when people can come out in different rounds and switch up their style completely," he said. "I want to see who has different flavors and different dance vocabulary."

Ann Davis Moore, a 17-year-old dancer at Dancefx Charleston, has already signed up to take both of Bankhead's classes.

"I'm a really big fan of his. I took his class a couple years ago in Atlanta," the Wando High School student said. "I loved it and it was so much fun."

Moore said Bankhead was funny and involved, dancing along with the students and being very thorough in his instruction.

Having Bankhead come to Charleston is "a great opportunity for the hip-hop lovers of our studio and our area," Moore said.

"It's a really good way to incorporate hip-hop into the dance scene in Charleston. It brings attention to it."

Follow Erin Shaw at twitter.com/IPBG_ErinShaw.


Video: Sean Bankhead performs his routine for Drake's song "Versace"

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