Thursday, January 29, 2004

Dancer steps into film


Shane Sparks choreographs 'You Got Served'

By Margaret A. McGurk
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Shane Sparks didn't need a studio to learn how to move to the music.

"I was born a dancer," says the Cincinnati native, a choreographer on the hip-hop drama You Got Served, which opens nationwide Friday.

Growing up in College Hill, he says, "You watched TV (dance shows), you watched music videos, you did it every day. I never took dance classes."

Sparks, who played football for Aiken High School, honed his performing skills around town and struck up a friendship with another local dancer, then known as Tara Patrick. They dated for three years, he says, before she moved to Los Angeles and changed her name to Carmen Elektra. What he remembers most about her: "She could really dance."

Sparks worked with a local song-and-dance group called Cold Premiere making the rounds of concerts, parties and talent shows, until they decided to try their luck in Los Angeles too.

A record deal didn't pan out, but then, Sparks says, a friend took him to a hip-hop class at a studio at the Millennium Dance Complex. "I had never heard of a place where you learned hip-hop. You did it or you didn't. I was blown away that people were there learning to do hip-hop."

He started spending time at the studio, and one day he stepped in for an absent teacher. "I started teaching for maybe 15 minutes; the teacher comes back and makes me his assistance. A month later, he leaves to go to Japan, and I took over teaching his class. It went from five people to the biggest class in California, about 180 people. ... I was the first one to use a platform three feet in the air so everybody could see me."

At the studio - "Everybody in the business goes there to rehearse" - he found his way onto a tour with IMX. When Chris Stokes (formerly manager of the hip-hop boy-band B2K) invited Sparks to work in You Got Served, he did not hesitate.

"It's gonna be the most exciting movie as far as dance ever, ever created. I've been dancing all my life, and I've never seen anything like this."

Sparks' fast-breaking success is thrilling his parents, siblings and nieces and nephews back home. "My sister just called me," he says. "She heard my name on the radio and we laughed for a half-hour.

"It's like a movie. My life has been like a movie."

E-mail mmcgurk@enquirer.com



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