Stomp­ing out disease

Chore­og­ra­pher teaches hip hop as part of HIV/AIDS out­reach

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @Tif­fIndyNews

On June 11, dancers and lovers of hip hop came from all over the Wash­ing­ton, D.C., metropoli­tan area to par­tic­i­pate in aS needs pro­duc­tions En­ter­tain­ment LL Chip hop mas­ter class taught by one of the most sought-af­ter chore­og­ra­phers in the en­ter­tain­ment busi­ness: Sean Bankhead.

S needs pro­duc­tions En­ter­tain­ment LLC, owned by Stacy Sneed and Ken­neth E. Sneed, helped raise HIV/ AIDS aware­ness through the ex­pres­sion of hip hop dance. The en­ter­tain­ment com­pany said it was hon­ored to have the hip hop mas­ter class taught by Bankhead, who has chore­ographed dances for celebri­ties like Bey­oncé Knowles, Lady Gaga, Usher Ray­mond, Ciara, Brit­tney Spears, Drake, Diddy and Mi­ley Cyrus. He has also chore­ographed dances for Lee Daniels’ “Em­pire” on FOX channel.

“I’m ex­cited about this op­por­tu­nity be­cause this is a good class with clean en­ergy, who are hav­ing fun,” Bankhead said. “I love teach­ing, and I know a lot of smaller cities don’t get a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties to take good classes that have proper train­ing from peo­ple who have ex­pe­ri­ence in the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try.”

The two-hour class took place at the Cal­vary Gospel Gym­na­sium in Wal­dorf, where more than 100 dancers built on their hip hop dance skills and in­creased their dance per­for­mance con­fi­dence — all while help­ing to stomp out the HIV/ AIDS epi­demic and vi­o­lence in the com­mu­nity.

“We’re hip-hop­ping and stomp­ing on HIV/AIDS for a good cause,” Stacy said. “Sean Bankhead brings a lot of peo­ple out, and this is such a great op­por­tu­nity for this area. It’s about com­ing out and en­joy­ing your­self for a great cause. We want to take the young peo­ple off of the streets and let them know that do­ing hip hop and danc­ing is some­thing fun and ex­cit­ing.”

“My wife and I have another or­ga­ni­za­tion called Women of Chang­ing Inc., where we speak about health is­sues, women’s causes, do­mes­tic abuse, and we in­cor­po­rate dance with it,” Ken­neth said. “This time we chose to take up the cause of HIV/AIDS with an or­ga­ni­za­tion called Damien Min­istry be­cause there are a lot of the folks suf­fer­ing with the disease and we want to bring light to the cause. We also wanted to bring some­thing here for the youth and get them in­ter­ested in a less struc­tured type of dance, be­cause with hip hop there are no re­straints.”

Bankhead said that in ad­di­tion to trav­el­ing the world and work­ing with many mu­si­cal artists as a cre­ative dancer, he has fam­ily in Wal­dorf and knows many great dancers in the area. He ad­mires great chore­og­ra­phers like Fa­tima Robin­son who chore­ographed Michael Jack­son’s “Re­mem­ber The Time” in 1992, and he hopes to mo­ti­vate other dancers to also make their dreams a re­al­ity.

He taught par­tic­i­pants a cre­ative dance to the song “Thief in the Night” by rap­per Young Thug fea­tur­ing Trou­ble. Dancers were up for the chal­lenge to recre­ate dance moves pre­vi­ously seen in mu­sic videos.

“I’m a dancer try­ing to build up my dance skills, so for peo­ple like me who don’t know how to dance like this, we now have the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence it,” said Do­minique Jones, 14, a stu­dent at Thomas Stone High School in Wal­dorf. Jones at­tended the hip hop dance class with her coach, Sher­rita Jones, di­rec­tor of the Charles County Dance Team. “It’s a good learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, and there are parts that are dif­fi­cult. But if you push your­self, then it’s not that hard. Plus, Sean Bankhead is a re­ally good teacher.”

Sherri Prasad, an in­struc­tor at Sharon’s Stu­dio of Dance in Wal­dorf, said she loves hip hop and en­joys meet­ing chore­og­ra­phers who have a back­ground in dif­fer­ent styles of dance. Dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives help grow and strengthen dancers.

“Hip hop is fun and cur­rent,” Prasad said. “It’s dif­fer­ent, but it will stretch your mind and your body, and it helps you be­come more rounded as a dancer.”

“I love the class and we do this style of hip hop in our stu­dio,” said Imani Smith, di­rec­tor of Joy­ous Evo­lu­tion Dance in Wal­dorf. “Hip hop is not as struc­tured as other mu­sic, and it gives dancers an al­ter­na­tive and some­thing fun to do.”

Bankhead said he en­joyed the class and is look­ing for­ward to work­ing with Lee Daniels, cre­ator of “Em­pire,” as chore­og­ra­pher on another Daniels-cre­ated show called “Star.”

S needs pro­duc­tions En­ter­tain­ment LLC plans to con­tinue to reach out to in­di­vid­u­als in Charles County and in­spire them to chal­lenge them­selves and achieve their goals, just as Bankhead has done.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY TIF­FANY WAT­SON

Last Satur­day, chore­og­ra­pher Sean Bankhead taught lo­cal dancers a cre­ative dance to the song, “Thief in the Night,” by BET Award nom­i­nee, rap­per Young Thug fea­tur­ing Trou­ble.

By the end of the Sean Bankhead hip hop dance class at the Cal­vary Gospel Gym­na­sium, the dancers from all over the Wash­ing­ton D.C. metropoli­tan area in at­ten­dance were hav­ing fun.

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