Transcript for Choreographer for Lil Nas X on creating his own style, inspiring others
Reporter: It was a performance to remember. Lil nas X hitting the stage with leather pants, a stripper pole, and some scandalous dance moves. His musical performance of "Montero call me by your name" on "Snl" breaking the norms what was you're used to seeing in the mainstream media. We kind of came up with these ideas what if we lifted him up, what if someone licked his neck? We kept saying, yeah, let's do it, why be afraid? Reporter: The man behind it all -- don't you wanna put my name on Reporter: 32-year-old choreographer Sean Bankhead. It's taken a long time for a performance like lil nas X's to be on a stage like "Saturday night live," don't you think? It was a first of its kind. I think -- that's all I could keep thinking of, I haven't seen this before. Especially with an open black gay artist. Reporter: You might not recognize him but you've seen his iconic routines. I've gotten to this place in my career where I've been able to understand that dance and performance can have an impact on pop culture, on people's lives. Reporter: One of the industry's biggest dancers, choreographing for stars like cardi B, Missy Elliott, norman, and lil nas X. He's working with a new generation of talent while building off pop legends, creating a style all his own. Diverse, expressive, and free. Do you feel like you're paving a way for young men of color and gay men of color? I do know that I've always kind of walked on the unbeaten path myself. I've always kind of done my own thing. How old were you when you first realize, I'm a dancer? My mother used to tell me stories that she would just be amazed when she would look at me in the car seat, jamming and bopping on beats and music, and she was like, man that kid always had rhythm. Reporter: From a young age he was inspired by the mtv pop stars of the late '90s and early 2000s. I went to learn Janet Jackson's dances, usher, Aaliyah, nsync, Britney spears. I've always kind of had rhythm and movement and dance in my body since I was a really young kid. Reporter: After his family moved to Atlanta when Sean was a kid, the dancer quickly found choreography. I was doing bat mitzvahs, people's parties, to all of a sudden I got an opportunity to teach a dance class. And there was a representative from bad boy. Bad boy came to my class, liked my stuff, was like, can you choreograph a music video? I had never choreographed anything in my life. I was like, yeah, absolutely, I can kill it. Reporter: His career took off. After working with girl group fifth harmony, he had his first big break choreographing norman for music video "Motivation." "Motivation" was kind of the buries fig thing for me that people really were like, wow. That choreography from start to finish was amazing. Think about it oh think about it Reporter: His creative moves quickly spreading from music videos -- to tiktok. Where they've become viral trends. We just did cardi B up. We wanted to create a dance that everyone at home could want to learn and could actually learn. Yeah yeah Reporter: And at the 2021 diagram he's, choreographing cardi B's eye-popping performance. I personally had the FCC on my tail because I choreographed cardi B and Megan thee stallion's dance performance. I've been in hot water this whole year. I'm already in trouble, might as well keep going with this. You're no stranger to the controversy. Sadly, it's pop culture, you want those moments. Reporter: As if he hadn't rocked the both enough already, Sean knew he had a chance to really send a message with lil nas X's "Snl" performance. I always had in mind, if I get my hands on that project, I'm going to really take it to the next level. Do you feel like he had something different in him that allowed you to sort of tap into such a boundary-pushing choreography? He was like, yeah, I want you to lick on me. Yep, I want to sit on his lap. Yep, I want to spin on the pole. That is' brazenness inspire you in a way? Absolutely. Meeting him, linking with him, we got along so well, two young gay kids from a. I got him, he got me, we had Cross-representation of two minority groups, a gay man, a black man. Tell me about some of the struggles you faced a as a choreographer. I ran into a lot of difficult moments. Being a young black choreographer. Dealing with labels and dealing with management teams and just people underestimating my business and work ethic. A lot of times my white counterparts would get offered more money for the same Jonathan I would. Reporter: Nas' performance a triumph over mainstream media where queer and black voices have historically been silenced. Do you think we've made any progress? Where do you think we stand as far as the conversation goes? Maybe two steps. Not 50. I think nas doesn't even really, really realize the impact he's having on just a whole generation and pop culture. Whether you were openly gay, closeted, anything like that, I still feel lake you were scared to be that risky, be that controversial. Because you didn't know what the outcome would be. Five six seven 8 Reporter: Sean is gearing up for his next big project. Continuing to push boundaries on and off the stage. And hoping to inspire a new generation of dancers. Inspiration is how I got here. So I hope that I can continue to inspire other people to kind of
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