Dancer pursues passion to set of film industry

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Ban poses on the red carpet for his role in the rival acappella group Das Sound Machine in Pitch Perfect 2.

Ban poses on the red carpet for his role in the rival acappella group Das Sound Machine in Pitch Perfect 2.
Courtesy of Steven Ban 

University alumni Steven Ban has made a big mark in the world of television and film after graduating and transitioning to life on the main stage. 

Also known as ‘Dancing Bill Gates,’ Ban has been featured in “Pitch Perfect 2” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” where SYTYCD Executive Producer and judge Nigel Lythgoe drew a comparison between the two men during February 2015.

“By far one of the best experiences I’ve ever done,” said Ban. “It was overwhelming because I was competing with my favorite dancers on YouTube that I looked up to and was competing for the same prize as them.”

Ban’s biggest break came from “Pitch Perfect 2,” in which he is a member of rival acappella group Das Sound Machine. He gained this role through an open call audition.

“Ever since the movie premiered, everything kicked off,” said Ban. “It was an eye opener, one of the hardest working gigs I ever had.” 

Despite preconceived notions, being on a set with Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson was apparently not all fun and games.

“Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson, had to rehearse like me, so we didn’t have a lot of time to hang out,” said Ban. “For lunch breaks we would do the best we could to hang out and talk.” 

In “The Magicians,” a new Syfy show, Ban participated in a unique type of audition.

“They wanted me to incorporate what I did with my hands to magic,” said Ban.

Ban, who is from Terrytown, graduated from the university in 2012 with a degree in Business Management. 

“I wanted to have something to fall back on in case dance didn’t work out,” said Ban. 

Ban originally planned to open a dance studio with his degree. While at the university, Ban participated in several organizations such as the Flipside dance organization, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia and several productions. 

Although instructor of Dance, Skip Costa, did not have an opportunity to teach Ban while he was a student, he was impressed by the performances and body of work he was involved in.

“Steven has an incredibly defined personal movement vocabulary which he effectively expresses when he performs thus creating excitement for any audience that views his work,” said Costa.

Martie Fellom, professor of Fine and Performing Arts first met Ban during the university production of “The Firebird” during fall 2011. With a need for contemporary music, Ban was sought out to create the first ten minutes of music for the show, but Fellom was unaware that his talents spanned beyond music.

Ban later participated in another on campus project that Fellom was involved in, “The Dance Etcetera” during November 2012. Although it was done in a concert format, Fellom featured Ban to showcase his unique style of dance.

“I like how he keeps evolving and inventing new aspects of this style he’s developed,” said Fellom.

During a reunion between the two at the end of the last spring semester, Ban asked Fellom for ballet lessons. Since then, the two have been training for months in between Ban’s busy schedule which includes working as a part time IT at a retail company.

“Every time he comes back he’s made major improvements and I am very much in awe of him for those commitments that he makes to practice,” said Fellom. “He wants it badly and he has an excellent work ethic. He’s soaring up and I’m happy for his success. I am thrilled and happy he has found his great love, dance, and he is succeeding in it.”

Ban continues to push himself daily as he takes on new forms of dance.

“I’m not going to let me being ‘famous’ stop me from being better,” said Ban. “I’m competing with myself to get better. I’m learning other styles of dance and broadening my horizons is probably my biggest growth.”

Ban admitted that his interest in dance peaked when he saw his favorite dancer Adam Sevani of “Step Up 2.”

“He was the baddest nerd in movie history,” said Ban. “He opened the door of what I wanted to do.”

Ban describes his style of dance as: “a form of animation and illusion.” 

He started dancing when he was 16 after gaining inspiration from watching his classmates dance before school. He then started practicing dance alone daily. Ban admits that he got more serious about dance in college when he began to teach at local schools, studios, as well as engaging in competitions and dance battles.

Ban has participated in Dance League U.S.A. as a guest and performer. He has also judged local competitions and participated in teaching local classes in cities such as: Franklinton, Hammond, New Orleans, Ponchatoula and Walker. He plans to teach a master class in tutting (interpretive, contemporary style of dance) in Birmingham, Alabama.

Ban offers words of encouragement and advice for those wishing to break into the entertainment world.

“You’ve got to practice, work hard, be on your grind, get a part time job to pay for travels and don’t let anybody tell you ‘you can’t do it,’” said Ban. “I don’t look like the typical dancer today. If you truly want it, you can’t wait for it to come to you.”

Ban acknowledges his current accomplishments and remains hopeful for the future.

“I’m proud of the fact that this is not a stopping point, this is a beginning point to push further towards my dreams and making it one of my steady incomes,” said Ban. “It’s a huge pat on the back.”

Ban plans to appear at the Buku Festival in New Orleans during Mar. 11-12, BattleFest in New Jersey during April and Disney World.

Visit Ban’s Instagram page at therobosteve, his Twitter page, thestevenban and email [email protected] to book him.