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Melvin Shane Sparks
June 25, 1969
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
Sparks was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is the youngest of three children born to Melvin and Wanda Sparks, both officers in the police force. Sparks spent some time in the hospital after his birth due to scoliosis. He became interested in dance at the age of 11, when he started performing in talent shows. His interest in teaching became apparent when he started offering dance lessons from his own backyard. Dance became extremely important to Sparks after his sister's boyfriend was murdered, as it became a way for him to escape and feel safe.
In 1993, Sparks left his hometown to move to Los Angeles. Here, he began making a name for himself as a choreographer. Several projects such as the feature film You Got Served and Fox's hit TV show So You Think You Can Dance made Sparks a force to be reckoned with. His solid resume of credits and awards today reflect his deep passion for dance and people of all ages and races admire his style of dance and suave attitude.
From a young age, Sparks knew his talent and gift was dance. Three months after his move to Los Angeles, he was offered a chance to substitute a hip-hop class at the Millennium Dance Complex, formerly known as Moro Landis, located in the North Hollywood Arts District. He soon became an assistant for this hip-hop class. When the teacher left, he took over the whole class. Due to his skill as a teacher and dancer, his class expanded from only three people to a record high of 175 people.
So You Think You Can Dance
The show features a broad variety of American and international dance styles including classical, contemporary, ballroom, hip-hop, street, club, jazz, and musical theatre styles, amongst others, with many subgenres within the categories represented.
America's Best Dance Crew
Sparks was a judge on MTV's dance competition reality show America's Best Dance Crew from seasons 1 to 4. He did not return to judge for the fifth season due to his arrest. Singer Omarion replaced Sparks during season 5. Omarion left after season 5 so he could focus on his music career. In season 6, D-Trix from Quest crew took over the spot as the third judge.
In 2011, Sparks pleaded no contest to a charge that he had sexual intercourse with an underage girl who studied at a dance studio where Sparks was employed as a teacher. Sparks claimed that he believed she was of legal age because she worked behind the front desk at the studio. He was sentenced to serve 135 days in a "pay-to-stay" jail, and did so over the course of two years, while continuing to work and travel internationally.
- Oscar Dahl (June 13, 2007). "Exclusive Interview: Shane Sparks, judge from So You Think You Can Dance". buddytv.com. Retrieved June 22, 2007.
- Adam B. Vary (2007). "Strictly Y'allroom". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 22, 2007.
- Dani Dornfeld and Sabrina Rojas Weiss (June 20, 2007). "Why So You Think You Can Dance Is Hotter Than Ever". TV Guide. Retrieved June 22, 2007.
- Kaufman, Gil. (December 18, 2009) 'America's Best Dance Crew' Judge Shane Sparks Arrested and Charged With Child Molestation – Music, Celebrity, Artist News. MTV. Retrieved on 2011-04-05.
- Santo, Alysia; Kim, Victoria; Flagg, Anna. "Upgrade your jail cell - for a price". www.latimes.com. Retrieved January 13, 2018.