Tabitha and Napoleon Duo
“It’s not going to be easy!” yells Tabitha D’Umo passionately on national television to over 200 hopefuls auditioning in Las Vegas. The crowd struggles through a sharp, athletic combination while she observes with Napoleon D’Umo, her husband and artistic teammate. “This is ‘So You Think You Can Dance!’” she reminds them, the popular show where the couple participates as choreographers and judges in season four.
Between muddling over competitors next to Nigel Lythgoe on Fox once a week, and creating movement for MTV’s Randy Jackson Presents: America’s Best Dance Crew, the duo also appears on their own in the new TLC show, “Rock the Reception.” Here, engaged couples match with notable choreographers to plan that infamous “first dance” for their wedding, making the memorable moment on the dance floor a powerful one for both the lovebirds and their guests.
But these newlyweds are not part of the deep talent pool that the choreographers usually soak in. Though their list of past coworkers includes the likes of Beyonce, Missy Elliot, and Justin Timberlake, they are still open to the styles of everyday people.
“Generally we like to watch a person move freely on their own, and from that we see what kind of personality comes out,” explained Napoleon during the series premiere in June. “Then we cater to that.”
“That’s our job,” added Tabitha. “Make them look the best with what they can do.”
If working with three television shows isn’t enough to satisfy their spark for movement, they also are heavily involved in teaching and choreographing for Monsters of Hip Hop, a 6-year old dance convention that tours 12 cities and hosts a performance in Los Angeles that keeps on getting bigger and bigger every time around. Of the noteworthy faculty “both are often the most requested teachers,” according to Andy Funk, the heart and mind behind the most pro-active dance convention in the Hip Hop world. “They are two of the most down to earth, honest, and creative people in the business,” he says. “They have worked incredibly hard and have developed a spotless reputation that will help them maintain a very long and prosperous career in a difficult industry.”
Tabitha and Napoleon have been a working couple for the past ten years, and “the chemistry between them, combined with an almost dorky sense of humor, has the class laughing and wanting more,” notes Andy Funk about his faculty duet.
Aside from choreographing for these workshops, NBA and NFL teams, commercials, award shows, and casino entertainment, Tab and Nap as a lot of dancers call them recently launched Nappytabs, a convenient name to remember for this new street wear they designed. They don’t miss an angle of their own marketing effort, offering t-shirts, hoodies, accessories, and more gears through their website but also via regional retailers, and conventions like Monsters of Hip Hop or The Pulse.
“We’ve started a trend for dancers around the world,” the pair writes on their MySpace, where they have over 1,800 friends admiring the styles.
Through their busy schedules, Tabitha and Napoleon together are a striking force in dance, gaining visibility in the commercial world and helping to bring the industry to a wider audience through popular culture. What’s next?