Ken Griffey Jr. will soon hit his 600th home run. It won't be long after that that his career in his home town of Cincinnati comes to an end as the Reds turn to youth to rebuild a team. Nevertheless, yesterday I was more concerned with the career of another Cincinnati native son, when I told my family, "I think I am really going to miss Shane Sparks on 'So You Think You Can Dance'." Shane has been a judge and choreographer over the first three seasons of SYTYCD, but is now involved in other projects. When I talk about SYTYCD or Mr. Sparks with the guys (my boyz) I see the look in their eyes: "Why does he know so much - or even anything - about dance?"
I developed an interest in dance because of my daughter, who learned and performed and competed with the Studio For Dance in Cincinnati. Allie is an only child, who declared early on that she was not going to play "any sport involving a ball". So I ended up driving the minivan to dance competitions, toting dance bags, costumes and makeup, while the other dads were off coaching soccer games or watching their sons play baseball. The dads who did show up at the competitions tried to adopt the proper masculine response to a room full of satin and tulle (I swear I don't really know if that's what dance costumes are made of) by complaining conspicuously about having to watch this dance stuff ("stuff" here serves as a polite euphemism). The more troubled men would run up and down in front of the stage, as if it were a ballfield sideline, exhorting their little girls to "Dance faster! Don't let Amber get ahead of you! Knock her down! Don't be a pussy!", the last comment being inappropriately screamed out during a number from the Broadway show, "Cats". Meanwhile, I sat serenely enjoying the the whole spectacle, knowing that no matter how much testosterone they generated, they could not push back the tide of estrogen in the room. My life had prepared me to accept this state of being. And, I must say, sitting in a room full of women watching girls dance to "Singing in the Rain" is not such a bad way to spend a day as compared to, say, watching soccer in the rain. Besides, there were refreshments.
My daughter no longer dances with the studio (though she did take a tap class at Ohio State and you can see the class perform here and here. My daughter is the tall one on the right.) Looking back, I don't regret a minute of the time spent watching her dance all these years. And I still enjoy "So You Think You Can Dance", which she got us started watching, and I openly admire Shane Sparks. Some guys try to make excuses for me: "Well, Shane is hip hop, dude. Hip hop is a guy thing, so you cool, JohnnyB." True enough, but I also like Tyce Diorio and, girlfriend, I think he might be gay. I don't care, Shane might be too. Makes no difference, I'm still glad I discovered Shane in one of his other projects over at "America's Best Dance Crew" last season; I've got a new dance show to watch. Ken Griffey Jr. never was and never will be as athletic as those dancers. And sitting in the living room with my family, watching dance on a 92 degree summer day in Cincinnati is nicer than sweltering at the ball park. And the refreshments are cheaper.
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Shane Sparks = share spanks