-- This male dancer is high-kicking his way into 2017 with some bold dance moves set to the song "Banginator" by Beatowski.
Erik Cavanaugh, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is defying traditional body stereotypes with his fierce contemporary dance routines.
"I went to a high school in Pittsburgh called CAPA which stands for creative and performing arts," the 23-year-old told ABC News. "I was originally a theater major and acted for a good portion of my life. At the end of my sophomore year, I realized I didn’t really have the drive for acting anymore and wanted to pursue dancing. And, since then, I have not looked back."
Although he’s been dancing since the age of 7, Cavanaugh said he was deterred for a time after one teacher discouraged him.
"When I was a lot younger, I had a teacher tell my parents I should give up on pursuing any career in the arts," Cavanaugh recalled. "So that’s why for most of my life I didn’t dance and just acted. She took something away from me that I loved because of these preconceived notions about what a dancer is supposed to be like and look like. So I’ve been encouraging others to keep following their dreams and their passion while I follow mine."
His tireless efforts and enthusiasm are beginning to pay off, too. Cavanaugh has more than 8,000 followers on his Instagram page and even caught the attention of actor Ashton Kutcher, who shared one Cavanaugh’s dance videos on his Facebook page just before the New Year.
"That was pretty crazy," said the proud dancer. "A career highlight for sure."
Cavanaugh works at a pizza shop "to pay the bills," but he also teaches dance classes at Carpelz Center for the Arts to kids, ages 6 to 17.
He hopes to inspire people of all sizes with his motto: "Dance is for everyBODY."
"If you love something, don’t let someone take it from you," said Cavanaugh. "There’s going to be naysayers all through your life that will tell you’re wrong, but if you’re happy and you’re doing something you love, that’s all that matters."