Choreographer Shane Sparks was born on June 25, 1974 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The youngest of three kids, he began dancing at age 11, and after finding himself hooked, has since performed in local talent shows and school showcases. Dancing became more important to him when his sister’s boyfriend was murdered: it became a means for him to feel safe. This passion would bring him to Los Angeles in 1993, after graduating from high school.
Sparks then pursued a performing career, first joining a dance group there, one that eventually evolved into a singing group. While it was met with small success, he continued appearing as a dancer in several music videos. His career took off when, while trying out at the Millennium Dance Complex in Los Angeles, he was mistaken for a teacher and ended up teaching a small class. Despite not having any choreography experience at the point, he impressed the faculty, so much that he later took over the class, and his classes expanded. From there, he was recruited to choreograph for several special events, including the American Music Awards, as well as the movie You Got Served.
Sparks is best known as a judge and choreographer on So You Think You Can Dance, after being selected by the show’s creator Nigel Lythgoe. He joined from the first season, and has devised competition hip-hop routines for several contestants. He is also a judge on another dance competition show, America’s Best Dance Crew.