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SHANE SPARKS: L+K?8KJ79#:JM+N !"#$%&#'%$()$*%'+#$,-'./$01-/$%2(1/$%&/3$,/.-$ %2(1/$%$24((*5$-6#%/$%'*$/#%&-$-7(&/$6,/"$ &#8(41/,('%&9$+(:7#/,/(&-5$4,;#$/"#$%6%&*< 6,'','=5$:14/,</%4#'/#*$>"%'#$>7%&;-? WORDS BY: :1&#J1&DO1#0&'-)*

The field of dance is no different than that of football, for someone like Shane Sparks. When the

feature film You Got Served opened at number one at the box office Super Bowl Weekend 2004, the world knew America’s thirst for glad-

iator-style sports. Actors Marques Houston, Megan Goode and Steve Harvey all helped to give life to the world of street dance competitions and Shane, as co-choreographer, was recognized with a 2005 BET Award and an American Choreography Award for his behind-the-scenes part. Shane is now an Emmy-nominated choreographer for his work on FOX’s So You Think You Can Dance, which ended its fifth season this summer with 9.3 million viewers. Three days later, the fourth season of MTV’s Randy Jackson Presents: America’s Best Dance Crew opened with 2.3 million, on which Shane is a judge. Kneepads, basement rehearsals and Cincinnati, Ohio battlegrounds–teen clubs and skating rinks–were his only formal training for such an outstanding career. “I was that guy that had kneepads on up under his suit going to church. I was that guy that had wrist bands and glasses and chains and stuff up under everything he wore, because at any given moment I was going to battle somebody and that was my mentality,” recalls Shane. “For certain people, dance was our football.” Like many sporty youngsters, Shane had a bit of a soccer mom. “When I was younger, my mother would say dance for everybody, every time people would come over. I could remember specifically getting on the floor doing a forward roll, rolling on my side and people started to clap. That was probably the first time I ever got praise for something.” By the time he was 20, Shane had moved to Los Angeles and was dancing and singing as part of a Jodeci-like group that was signed to the now defunct Warner Music Group subsidiary, Giant Records. There, he was also drafted to work as a dance teacher–a side hustle he still enjoys. “I learned how to sing background, lead. I learned how to produce music, write songs. I learned so much in that process, it gives me a different angle on doing choreography ... There [are] sounds in these songs that can be expressed. Most people dance on the downbeat. As you get sicker, you learn to dance just to the hi hat and sometimes you dance to the bass line, or the chords, or the lyrics. Then you start to dissect that song and you’re expressing that song a little bit better.” Shane’s musicality and ability to teach, may well be his most formidable gifts. Coming from a raw-talent, hip hop world, he breaks technical dancers with the intricacy and passion of say, an Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings. “It’s almost like when the tailback has the ball, he doesn’t have time to really think about what he’s going to do, he’s just reacting. But because he’s so good at it, you don’t realize that when he jukes to the left, he’s looking to the right to try to fake you out.” Though Shane may be juking to the left, becoming known worldwide through hip hop, he’s set his vision beyond the one genre. “I’m not a hip hop choreographer, I’m a choreographer. I’m an artistic director.” This fall, just as football season is getting underway, he will be in New York City gearing up to go head-to-head with Super Bowl Weekend 2010, as co-choreographer for the national tour of the musical Dreamgirls. “It’s definitely something that’s really challenging to me and I’m really, really, really excited to be a part of something so big coming from a hip hop point of view, you know what I mean? I’m giving it my all.” J

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entertainment

Reggae singer Tarrus Riley may be a new outbreak in the U.S. with his LP "Contagious", but he’s already won awards, recorded two previous studio albums and is being lauded as a revival of the roots reggae that Diamond-selling Bob Marley made popular. Though humble, he hopes we all catch the fever, no matter if we’re black, white or ‘whatever nation.’

Born Omar Riley to a reggae singer named Jimmy Riley and a nurse named Lavern, Tarrus’s manifest destiny to create, as he calls it, “healing music,” was written into the stars. From an early age, he was experiencing the studio life–watching how things operate and the rehearsals it takes. He taught himself the keyboard and percussion instruments, penned his own lyrics and, still a teenager, recorded for his father’s Love and Promotion label. His mother suggested he take on his zodiac sign, Taurus, ruled by the element Earth, for a stage name. As his remedial practice evolved, so did his tenor and the now “Tarrus” went from deejaying over dancehall beats (Jamaica’s equivalent of rapping over a hip hop track) to what is now his third album, considered a roots reggae revival and ironically titled Contagious. “My album is about love in every different way you can say it. It’s here to break down the walls of discrimination and segregation and all those things ... music has to have a little bit of message, you know and at the same time make you feel good,” Tarrus explains. And then, in all the persuasive purity of a voice that won him Best Male Vocalist and Best Song at the 2008 International Reggae & World Music Awards, he says of the paradox of his album’s title, “We want love to be contagious, so help me spread it why don’t you?” Roots reggae is a subgenre distinguished by its lyrical content involving social issues and often from a Rastafarian perspective. It was made popular by Bob Marley in the 1970s, just about a decade after the nascent of reggae. Like the title track, which samples Bob Marley’s “Coming in From the Cold,” Contagious firmly sprouts from the revered legacy, occasionally adding a contemporary dose of Tarrus’s own

roots– dancehall. “Roots [reggae] is the foundation ... reggae music from when it started. Most of the time the message is just positive and it uplifts your spirit.” Even when approaching issues like gun violence on “Living the Life of a Gun,” domestic violence on “Start A New,” or just general non-peace behavior on “Why So Much Wickedness,” Tarrus prefers questioning over condemnation, opting to make people think rather than compromise his ability to make people “feel good.” “Instead of the war take a look and/ instead of the violence read a book” he croons on “Let Peace Reign.” “It’s all about equalize and justice,” Tarrus informs. “I don’t have to come and bash the world and knock the world about everything that’s happening. Them have a conscious and them know what them do.” For the already awakened, Contagious contains remakes of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” and Robin Thicke’s “Superman.” Regarding connecting to his audience, songs like, “It Will Come (A Musician’s Life Story)” on which Tarrus sings, “Baby, one day you will overstand/ I’m only a man working hard for my family/ And though rewards may not come right away, have some faith/ This I know, it will come” really speaks to his fans. One realization that Tarrus holds dear to his heart is his ability to prove the medicinal power of love. Though feeling the effect of the gruel of traveling and just hours before the show at his North Carolina stop, he says, “I just love the people. Anywhere we are and the people have good vibes, that’s my favorite [place to be].” J

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jadore.shanesparks  

entertainment The field of dance is no different than that of football, for someone like Shane Sparks. When the feature film You Got Served...