Sean Bankhand has been running the choreography scene for years. He's worked with all the biggest stars of today including Cardi B, Normani, and Missy Elliott just to name a few. Last week, Bankhead had another huge moment with singer Victoria Monet. She released her latest single, "On My Mama", and it nearly broke the internet in large part due to the choreography.
The star dancer, who is no stranger to viral moments, connected with EBONY to talk his latest music video with Victoria Monet, working with Normani, and his favorite music videos he's choreographed thus far.
EBONY: How did you and Victoria Monet start working together?
Sean Bankhead: We've actually known each other for years because we both grew up in the dance circuit. We both were a part of this dance convention called Monsters of Hip Hop. So we kind of knew of each other, and we always knew that we would want to work with each other. The first time that we did work together was the video that she dropped before "On My Mama", which was called "Party Girls", which is a completely different vibe from this latest project. I think the reception was really well, so we were like, let's do it again. And we did.
The "On My Mama" music video brought us back to the early 2000s, Y2K vibes, and the internet loved it. What inspired you to take the choreography in that direction?
I think there were a lot of different inspirations. Obviously, Victoria Monet wanted to have the Black culture, HBCU culture, strolling, majorettes, a throwback vibe in there. Another inspiration we saw was that Druski video of him dancing in that white tee. When he was doing that video, I was like, nah, this is what I grew up on up in Atlanta, and it reminded me of when I started doing choreography, that was the style that I was doing. So we wanted to make our own kind of stroll. We wanted to have kind of like a really Southern girl drill team type routine.
What's your favorite thing about Victoria Monet?
She can really dance, which was awesome because when you work with an artist who genuinely can dance, understands counts, musicality, and intricate choreography—as a choreographer, my brain gets to run wild. Like there's no limit to where I can take it with her.
Another one of your big collaborations is with Normani. The "Wild Side" video also went viral. How did that relationship develop?
Normani and I have known each other for years. One of my mentors who I was working under at the time, Fatima Robinson, pretty much gave me control of Fifth Harmony. We did Fifth Harmony for at least three or four years. And at that time, we really knew that Normani had this really incredible dance ability that we weren't able to really tap into because of her being in the group. But once Fifth Harmony took their hiatus, me and Normani looked at each other like, let's go. It's go time.
Having worked with so many different people, dancers, talents, and different styles of dancing, how do you stay true to yourself?
I go back home to Atlanta. Honestly, people want me to move and I tell them nah every time. Like, Atlanta is where the culture always starts, from music to fashion, dance and everything that is trendy. The south and Atlanta has something to say. And I also to keep my eyes on my own paper. I really don't try to watch too many other choreographers for inspiration anymore.
Why do the Cardi B's, Normani's, and the Missy Elliot's keep coming to you? What's your secret sauce?
One I think is the level of patience that I have with the artist, but almost on a level of father figure that's going to challenge them, and they are accepting of the challenge. I think right now in my career, artists like Lil Nas X and Cardi B, who aren't necessarily known as dancers, know they want to continue to be amazing performers, and dancing comes with that. And they know if they are willing to work, I'm there to work with them.
What are your top five songs you have choreographed?
"Wild Side" by Normani for sure. Cardi B's "Up", Lil Nas and Jack Harlow's "Industry Baby". Also, Missy's "Drip Demeanor". Number five would be "On My Mama".