Shane Sparks is extremely excited about the new season of America’s Best Dance Crew. Talking to him the day before the season 2 premiere June 19 at 10pm on MTV, the choreographer is nothing but energy when discussing the crews and challenges that lie in wait for them.
BuddyTV spoke to Shane Sparks about America’s Best Dance Crew, finding out why he feels he’s better suited to judge this show than So You Think You Can Dance, previewing what fans will see from the various challenges this season, and even boldly declaring his excitement for one particular dance crew this season in particular. Continue reading for the full transcript and the chance to listen to the interview.
Hi, this is John from BuddyTV and I’m talking to Shane Sparks, one of the judges of America’s Best Dance Crew on MTV. How’s it going?
I’m going pretty good, how are you doing John?
I’m doing great. Now, this show was sort of a surprise hit. It came onto the scene, it was a smash, and MTV really went into overdrive to get this second season back. Were you surprised by what a huge response it got?
I was not surprised at all, John. You know what, this show is like rock and roll. Everybody was afraid of it, but once it hit you couldn’t get rid of it. And that’s what this show is about. America’s Best Dance Crew is the new rock and roll, and it’s going to go on forever. We just hit that funny bone, you know what I mean? We got everybody in the world dedicated and loving something that we’ve been doing all our life. Once you get a taste of it you never go back, and that’s this show.
Right now there is sort of like this overflow of dance reality shows on TV. What sets America’s Best Dance Crew apart from those?
One of the things that separates it for me is the fact that a street crew from New York, a street crew from Cincinnati, Ohio, from Dayton, Ohio, could just come on this show and become instant stars, instant celebrities, and have their dreams come true. A lot of shows don’t give that opportunity because you have to have so much technique and so much training, and not a lot of people can afford that. And I think we give that opportunity. And then we got crews dancing together, and I think it’s so much more beautiful to see crews dancing and different things that they can do as individuals when they come together to do a different piece.
You have the breaking crews, you have the popping crews, you have the ganky crews, you have the salsa crews, you have all these different groups that have all these different styles that they can mix and match because they have more people in their group to mix and match with. Those are two of the main reasons that America’s Best Dance Crew is so popular and people love it, because just the average person can get on thathow and become a star. And they’re only average because they’re not on the show, but as entertainers and dancers they are so, so sick.
You raise a couple of interesting points that I’ve always thought about this show where you don’t necessarily need that fancy technique that they always talk about on So You Think You Can Dance or shows like that, about the lines and all the proper formatting. When you’re judging this show, are you looking more then for that flash and that flare as opposed to the technique, or is technique still sort of important?
No, technique is very important. I don’t want people to get confused because when you do locking, there’s a technique to locking. Not everybody can lock, you have to learn how to do it correctly. When you pop, there’s a technique to popping correctly. When you break, when you do certain moves like the windmill where you do the baby windmills, when you do stalls, there’s a technique to all that stuff that you have to be able to do to make those moves come across. The thing is that we don’t stress a person doing it a certain way because everybody has their own way of doing a stall, of doing a windmill. That’s the difference. We know a real windmill when we see it, but different people do a windmill holding their knees, some hold their head, some hold their legs, or some fold their arms across their chest. There’s just no wrong way of doing it when you’re doing your style and when you do the dance correctly, you know what I mean?
A lot of lines, and jazz and ballet and lyrical, it’s almost like you have to be almost the same. If you had three people do a lyrical piece they would probably do that lyrical piece, they would all do it the exact same way, maybe one or two would probably switch it up a little bit. In the hip hop, we say, “Okay, four guys, do a windmill.” All four of them would be the windmill totally different, but they’re doing the windmill, you know what I mean? It’s like you can’t do the windmill without getting air, you can’t have your feet touching the ground. So we all know that, so when you do it you’re doing it right, but you’re just doing it with your own style. That’s what makes you hot and that’s what makes you different and that’s what we love about hip hop. There’s no guidelines as for how you want to do it, but it’s got to be done right, the move has got to be done right. But you do it right your own way. If that makes sense.
Yeah, it does make sense, and that sort of answers my next question which is going to be as a judge, how do you judge the different styles? Because this show you have Sass x7, the dance squad from Rutgers, and Super Cr3w, the group of B-boys. Those are so different, how do you judge them on the same playing field?
That’s the good thing about it, when you have a background in all those dance styles, like all those groups you named I’ve seen those styles, I’ve popped those styles, I’ve done those styles. So when they come out and do like the little ganky, like Fanny Pak, when they come out to do their style we call that like a ganky style or whatever, I know what it looks like and what it’s supposed to look like because I’ve seen that style and done that style. When Super Cr3w come out and do their breaking, I was a break dancer at one time, I know breakers, I see it everyday, so I know when they’re doing it right and when they’re doing it wrong. And then you got another crew from Houston, I can’t think of their name, when they come out and do their — I’ll just say the Boogie Bots, when the Boogie Bots come out and do their animation stuff and do their robotic stuff, we seen JabbaWockeeZ do that, we’ve seen so many crews do it, so we know when it’s right and when it’s wrong.
When you watch the show, if you notice, I’m being a little more strict this year, because I don’t want nobody just getting on the show thinking they can just love some choreography and get on this show and win or even compete. I want them to be real crews that’s been together for awhile, and if they just got together at least they’re dope enough to be able to come up with choreography that’s original and they’re hot for the show, not just something that somebody got to the side and taught them and they taught them all wrong, but the fact that they’re doing it together they think they’re a crew. I don’t want that this year and I don’t want it next year, so I’m going to be really strict on that. But having that background in all those different styles of dance, that’s what gives me the advantage. That’s why I can judge, like, “Oh, they did that correctly. Oh, when they were locking they did that correctly, when they were breaking they did that correctly.”
I know the difference, but if I didn’t have those backgrounds I wouldn’t know what to say. Just like when I did So You Think, a lot of the styles I don’t know, so it was hard for me to judge those styles. I would judge the energy of it and what it made me feel like and how good it looked, but I could never just be like, “Oh your line was off” or “Your toes should have been pointed,” because I don’t know that style that well to critique it like that.
For this season, for season 2, are there any differences with the challenges or how everything’s going? Is there anything new with the second season?
It’s going to be kind of the same. We got a few other tricks that we got up our sleeve that I really can’t talk about too much, but it’s the new things that we got these crews, that they’re going to have to do that’s going to show their ability. A lot of them are going to be shocked and a lot of them are going to get stumped, because they’re totally switching styles. It’s not like you get to do your hip hop and then you show us how you fly. We got one that you totally got to flip your style, and then that right there is going to show you that you need to learn more than just hip hop, you need to learn more than just lyrical jazz, you need to learn more than just salsa.
That’s our goal, to make these people well rounded, make the dancers well rounded. So we say, “Okay, you got a lyrical piece this week, what are you going to do?” Ahh, see, if you’d have took some lyrical classic then you’d be able to incorporate that into your choreography or into your show and not be sitting around like I don’t know nothing about it. So those are some of the things that are going to stump some of these crews, and the ones that pull through are the ones I’m going to love, and I’m going to be like, “You deserve to be here.”
Thank you very much for talking to us Shane, and we’re all very excited to get this competition underway and to see who’s going to be there at the end.
Yes, sir. Super Cr3w, Super Cr3w, Super Cr3w, that’s all I have to say.
-Interview conducted by John Kubicek
(Image courtesy of MTV)