Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo

Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Tabitha A. D'umo (ne Cortopassi born September 11, 1973) and Napoleon Buddy D'umo (born October 17, 1968), known together as Nappytabs, are Emmy Award-winning married choreographers who are often credited with developing lyrical hip-hop. They are best known for their choreography on the television show So You Think You Can Dance and for being supervising choreographers on America's Best Dance Crew for the first five seasons. Since being with the former, their choreography has received both praise and criticism. They own Nappytabs urban dancewear and have been working together in the dance industry since 1996.

Tabitha and Napoleon grew up on opposite coasts of the United States and met in the early 1990s as students at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. They began their dance career together while still in college by choreographing industrial musicals for large corporations with the hip-hop dance company Culture Shock. They were married in 1998 and continued to work in Las Vegas but eventually decided to move to Los Angeles to expand their opportunities. After moving in 1999, they started teaching hip-hop classes at the Edge Performing Arts Center in North Hollywood and found extra work choreographing for professional sports dance teams and back-up dancing for musical artists. In 2003, they joined the faculty of Monsters of Hip Hop dance convention.

Their work was introduced to mainstream audiences in 2008 when they became supervising choreographers on America's Best Dance Crew and resident choreographers on So You Think You Can Dance. It was on the later show that their lyrical hip-hop choreography style gained exposure. The pair's career progressed to providing creative direction for tours and live events, where they worked with Christina Aguilera, Ricky Martin, Celine Dion, and Jennifer Lopez. They continued to develop their dancewear line by breaking out of its previously online-only presence and opening a physical store location in 2010.

From television and concerts, their move into theater occurred gradually. In 2010, they directed the JabbaWockeeZ's MS.I.C. stage show and began to work with Cirque du Soleil. They choreographed Viva ELVIS and were contributing choreographers for Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour. They continued to establish themselves in television as choreographers for the flash-mob themed reality show MOBBED. Aside from their choreography, creative direction, and dancewear line, Tabitha and Napoleon continue to teach hip-hop classes at dance studios and on the convention circuit. They have also been involved with charity work for organizations that support the arts.

Life and career

1968"1996: Early life and education

Napoleon was born October 17, 1968. While growing up as one of three children in Victorville, California, he learned b-boying, locking, and popping by traveling to Los Angeles and frequenting the b-boy scene; he was eventually cast as an extra in the movie Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo in 1984. After Napoleon graduated from Apple Valley High School, he joined the army and worked as a surgeon's assistant while stationed in Germany. Once discharged, he attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) where he majored in molecular biology and started taking jazz and modern dance classes.

Tabitha was born September 11, 1973, and grew up as an only child in Galloway, New Jersey. Her mother enrolled her in jazz dance classes when she was young. Since there were no hip-hop classes, Tabitha learned by watching music videos and participating in her school's cheer and dance teams. She cites Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, and Paula Abdul as influences. While cheerleading at Absegami High School, Tabitha earned "All-American" status at the National Cheerleaders Association camp and got the opportunity to perform in the Aloha Bowl in Hawaii. After Tabitha graduated, she moved to Nevada in 1991 to attend UNLV where she majored in communications and started taking formal hip-hop dance classes. It was there at a party that she met Napoleon.

While hanging out with her cheerleading and dance team friends, Tabitha invited Napoleon and his body building friends to come to a casual practice session and do stunt work with them. Napoleon and his friends eventually attended a formal practice session on campus, and the coach was so impressed with their work that they all received full scholarships to join the team. Tabitha and Napoleon started dating in 1994, but their professional partnership and dance career did not start until 1996 when they began teaching hip-hop classes together at the Las Vegas Athletic Club. Since the beginning of their career, they have always worked together including their first choreography job and the first dance class they taught. It is very rare for them to work apart.

1996"2007: Early career, dancewear, and creative directing

While Tabitha and Napoleon were still in college, they were accepted into the dance company Culture Shock where they met members of the JabbaWockeeZ before the JabbaWockeeZ became a crew. In addition to going to school and being a part of Culture Shock, they both maintained part time jobs. Together they worked at Bunker Dance Studio in Las Vegas teaching hip-hop classes. Separately Napoleon worked as a personal trainer while Tabitha worked at the Rio Hotel and Casino. During their time with Culture Shock, they choreographed a variety of industrial musicals for casinos and corporations such as Nike, Levi, Redken, Matrix Hair, and MAC. They stayed with the company and eventually worked their way up from dancers to become artistic directors. As their college graduation was approaching"?although Tabitha was planning to take a job in public relations and Napoleon was planning to attend medical school"?they both decided to change their plans and pursue a career in the dance industry.

Tabitha and Napoleon were married April 19, 1998. In 1999, they moved to Los Angeles to expand their opportunities. Upon arriving in L.A., they taught hip-hop classes at the Edge Performing Arts Center in North Hollywood. They found extra work as back-up dancers for Beyonc, Toni Braxton, Missy Elliott, Monica, Timbaland, Sisq, and Destiny's Child whom they both went on tour with in 2002. Their move from dancing into choreography occurred gradually. Jobs included choreographing performances for NFL and NBA dance teams including the Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Chicago Bulls, and Orlando Magic. In November 2002, they made the cover of Dance Spirit magazine. They were profiled along with seven other choreographers and interviewed about what it takes to make it as a dancer in Los Angeles. In 2003, Napoleon started teaching classes with Monsters of Hip Hop dance convention. Tabitha joined him later and they are still permanent faculty members.

In 2005, Tabitha and Napoleon started Nappytabs dancewear which they design. Nappytabs is the first line of hip-hop dance apparel. They cite the lack of appropriate dancewear for the hip-hop dance community as inspiration for the company. Early in its production, Tabitha sewed the clothes herself. The Nappytabs logo is a yin and yang like symbol with an "n" and a "t" overlapping in the middle. The word itself"?Nappytabs"?is a combination of Napoleon (Nappy) and Tabitha's (Tab) nicknames.

Tabitha and Napoleon began creative directing stage shows and concerts in the mid-2000s. In 2006, they served as assistant directors for Christina Aguilera's Back to Basics Tour. In 2007, they were also assistant directors for Ricky Martin's Black and White Tour. Both tours were directed by Jamie King who is known primarily for his work with Madonna.

Tabitha was the host/instructor of an exercise DVD by Prevention Fitness Systems titled Drop it with Dance. The video is split into six 10-minute routines that gradually increase in difficulty; movements from all six routines are combined in the finale "Showtime" segment. She also appeared in Rock Your Body, another dance fitness DVD hosted by Jamie King.

2008"2009: Dance shows and mainstream exposure

Tabitha and Napoleon became supervising choreographers for the inagural season of America's Best Dance Crew (ABDC) in 2008. They were responsible for choreographing group routines, coming up with dance challenges, and assisting the crews as needed with polishing their performances. Also in 2008, the couple took on hosting duties for Rock the Reception. On the show, they created wedding dances for engaged couples and their wedding party to perform for the guests at the reception. The participants were real life couples with no dance experience. In addition to ABDC and Rock the Reception, they joined the choreography and judging team on the fourth season of So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD). It was on this show that their lyrical hip-hop choreography style gained mainstream exposure.

Lyrical hip-hop is a fluid and more interpretive version of standard hip-hop often danced to downtempo rap music or R&B music. The term itself was coined by choreographer and producer Adam Shankman in reference to a routine choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon to Leona Lewis' song "Bleeding Love". "Bleeding Love" was nominated for a 2009 Emmy Award for Outstanding Choreography. After the season ended, Tabitha and Napoleon directed the 2008 So You Think You Can Dance Tour. They continued creative directing several other concerts throughout the remainder of the year.

They teamed up with Jamie King again and served as assistant directors for Celine Dion's Taking Chances Tour. They directed Monsters of Hip Hop: The Show and America's Best Dance Crew Live which featured dance crews JabbaWockeeZ, Super Cr3w, Fanny Pak, ASIID, and Breaksk8. OMG! gave the concert a positive review stating that the five crews represented a good mix of styles and that the concert brought the best parts of the show to the stage.

In January 2009, the Nappytabs dancewear website launched which began the start of online clothing sales. Their dancewear website is designed and maintained by Ryan Cyphert's 3nine Design media company. Cyphert is also a professional dancer and a colleague of Tabitha and Napoleon; they have all taught at Shock the Intensive dance convention.

In April 2009, Tabitha and Napoleon choreographed two couples' routines and a group routine for the second season of So You Think You Can Dance Australia. The "Arab Money" hip-hop routine that they choreographed received positive reviews from the judges but their "Dead and Gone" lyrical hip-hop routine, which was performed later on the same episode, received the most praise. Bonnie Lythgoe called it the "top routine of the night". Jason Coleman added "the choreography [was] absolutely spectacular" and Matt Lee said it was "...probably the best routine in the series." While in Australia, Tabitha and Napoleon were judges at the 2009 Australian Hip Hop Championships in Sydney.

Tabitha and Napoleon choreographed several television specials later in the year. In September, they choreographed the opening dance sequence on the season seven premiere of The Ellen DeGeneres Show. The routine featured both DeGeneres and the top ten dancers from season five of So You Think You Can Dance. At the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards, they choreographed a routine honoring dance that featured alumni from So You Think You Can Dance, America's Best Dance Crew, and Dancing With the Stars. Dancers included Karina Smirnoff and Maksim Chmerkovskiy, from Dancing With The Stars; Katee Shean, Mark Kanemura, and Joshua Allen, from So You Think You Can Dance; and four members of Quest Crew"?the winners of season three of America's Best Dance Crew. They finished the year with choreography for Carrie Underwood's All-Star Holiday Special and Jennifer Lopez' performances at the American Music Awards and Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest.

2010"2012: Stage productions, brand expansion, and music videos

In 2010, Tabitha and Napoleon returned to So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD) for season seven and started to work with four different productions of Cirque du Soleil. In February, they provided choreography for Cirque du Soleil's Viva ELVIS show at the Aria hotel in Las Vegas. They also choreographed a Viva ELVIS guest appearance on Dancing with the Stars which Dance Spirit magazine called "fun" and "energetic". On SYTYCD, they choreographed routines for the contestants as well as one routine for the cast of Cirque du Soleil's Beatles LOVE for a guest performance. They worked with LOVE again at the NHL awards and with their sister Cirque productions K, for a guest performance on America's Got Talent, and Mystre, for a guest performance on Lopez Tonight. After So You Think You Can Dance ended, they appeared as guest choreographers on the Ukrainian version of the show called Everybody Can Dance! / ???"???"?? ??-!.

Aside from choreography, Tabitha and Napoleon continued to develop and expand their dancewear line. In May, they opened the Nappytabs store and dance studio in the North Hollywood Arts District. Although they design their own clothing, they commissioned some print and t-shirt designs from Alex Lodermeier who has also designed for Propr, a clothing line owned by Ben Harper, David Arquette, and David Bedwell. Through Nappytabs, they also started to sponsor The Pulse on Tour dance convention and the Industry Voice online newsletter. Their clothing appears in independent R&B singer John Gillette's music video "All Bad". Tabitha was a featured dancer in the video and Napoleon made a cameo appearance at the end.

Also in May, the JabbaWockeeZ' MS.I.C. (pronounced MUSE-i-see) stage show, which Tabitha and Napoleon directed, opened at the MGM Grand Las Vegas hotel. MS.I.C. is the first hip-hop dance stage show on the Las Vegas Strip. The show was 90 minutes long involving dancing, comedy, and magic. In October, MS.I.C moved to the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino. At the Monte Carlo premiere, the JabbaWockeeZ brought Tabitha on stage for a cameo appearance. Later in the year, Tabitha and Napoleon appeared in the independent dance documentary Move. The film is about dance as an art form and how notable choreographers were able to go from dancing as a hobby to dancing as a career.

In February 2011, Tabitha and Napoleon made their music video directorial debut with the song "All These Boys" by Jasmine Villegas. Unlike John Gillette's "All Bad" they did not dance or appear in the video, but they did serve as the choreographers. In the Spring, they returned to working in television with two projects. At the invitation of Nigel Lythgoe, they joined the production crew on the tenth season of American Idol as staging and movement coaches. They also choreographed the Howie Mandel-produced television show MOBBED which premiered after American Idol on March 31, 2011. The pilot episode was actually shot in September 2010, but after drawing 10.8 million views it was picked up as a series.

In April, they started work on the film COBU 3D starring Derek Hough from Dancing With the Stars and K-pop singer BoA Kwon. Their relationship with BoA extended past the production of the film when they choreographed the music video for her song "Only One""?the title track from her seventh studio album. gave the choreography a positive review and acknowledged that using lyrical hip-hop suited the song's tempo and BoA's movement, calling Tabitha and Napoleon's involvement "beyond perfect". Due to scheduling conflicts with the production of COBU 3D, Tabitha and Napoleon did not return to America's Best Dance Crew as supervising choreographers for season six. When filming was complete, they did return to Cirque du Soleil as two of ten choreographers for Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour. Like other stage shows they've worked on in the past, this one was also directed by Jamie King. In the midst of all their professional accomplishments during the year, Christmas 2011 brought personal changes as Napoleon announced on their Twitter page that Tabitha was pregnant.

Tabitha and Napoleon spent the beginning of 2012 apart. While Tabitha was choreographing Madonna's halftime performance for Super Bowl XLVI, Napoleon was shooting more scenes for COBU 3D and scouting for the seventh season of America's Best Dance Crew. Although they are not supervising choreographers for ABDC anymore, Napoleon has been a talent scout for the show since its inception. After the superbowl, Tabitha worked with Madonna again. She choreographed her music video "Girl Gone Wild" which featured all-male Ukrainian dance troupe Kazaky. On August 10, 2012, Tabitha gave birth to son, London Riley D'umo. During the last months of the year, Tabitha and Napoleon continued to work with K-pop artists. They choreographed the music videos "Humanoids" by TVXQ and "I Got A Boy" by Girls' Generation. TVXQ, Girls' Generation, and BoA are all signed to S. M. Entertainment.

Choreography style and teaching

Tabitha and Napoleon's choreography is primarily hip-hop; however, it varies across genres depending on what project they're working on. For example, on America's Best Dance Crew the group routines they have choreographed have all been hip-hop; however, with Cirque du Soleil their work has been a combination of jazz dance and acro. In general, their choreography emphasizes big visuals, which they attribute to their cheerleading past, and is "...largely centered on storytelling and physical comedy." The style they are most known for is lyrical hip-hop.

Lyrical hip-hop

Lyrical dance is a studio-based dance style that uses a combination of classical dance techniques from jazz and ballet to tell a story through movement. With jazz and ballet, technique alone can provide a good performance but in lyrical dance expressing emotion is emphasized just as much as technique. Hip-hop is an urban dance style that is characterized as hard-hitting involving isolations"?moving certain body parts independently from others"?and musicality, the body's sensitivity to changes in music. Hip-hop can incorporate movement from its substyles locking, breaking, popping, and boogaloo to add a different movement quality but conveying emotion does not have to be present as the dance is more about bravado and personal enjoyment. Lyrical hip-hop is a fluid and more interpretive version of standard hip-hop. It combines the nuances of lyrical dance with the vocabulary and foundational movements found in hip-hop. According to Dance Spirit magazine, what differentiates lyrical hip-hop from standard hip-hop is that dancers interpret the beat differently. In lyrical hip-hop there are still isolations, gliding, and body waves just like in standard hip-hop. However, the movements are smoother and more fluid rather than hard-hitting and, like lyrical dance, emphasis is placed on storytelling and conveying emotion through the choreography.

</ref>}} Lyrical hip-hop first gained mainstream exposure, and its name, in 2008 on season four of the reality dance competition So You Think You Can Dance. The term itself is credited to Adam Shankman, a choreographer and judge on the program, who made a comment in reference to a routine choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo to Leona Lewis' song "Bleeding Love". Due to Shankman's comment and their subsequent work on seasons four through seven, Tabitha and Napoleon are credited with developing this style.

Some hip-hop purists feel the interpretive and softer approach means lyrical hip-hop is not hip-hop at all. From a purist perspective, dancing to the lyrics would make the choreography linear and too technical. This is because dancing to the words would take precedence over dancing to the beat. Traditionally in hip-hop, dancing to the beat is essential; lyrics can accent the movement, but the beat is the guiding force for the dancing. Other hip-hop dancers, such as choreographer Shane Sparks, believe that lyrical hip-hop is hip-hop but not different enough for it to have a separate label or be in its own subgenre.


Although Tabitha and Napoleon have a solid career in choreography and creative direction, they spend a significant amount of time teaching classes at dance studios and conventions. They have stated that teaching helps their choreography because it keeps them current on new social dances (party dances) and emerging hip-hop substyles. They are faculty members at, Millennium Dance Complex, and the Edge Performing Arts Center. They also teach hip-hop dance classes at iHollywood and Monsters of Hip Hop dance conventions. On occasion they travel to different venues as guest teachers. In the past, they have taught at Shock the Intensive, LADF, Dance Blitz, Seattle Theater Group, Coastal Dance Rage, the Dance Teacher Web Conference and Expo, Teen Dance Company of the Bay Area, JUMP, Xtreme Dance Force, ProDance, Triple Threat Dance Project 818, Boogiezone, and the So You Think You Can Dance Experience.

Critical reception


The JabbaWockeeZ have been performing the show MS.I.C. since May 2010. Over the course of their tour, the show has received mixed reviews. The first run of MS.I.C. was held at the MGM Grand Las Vegas hotel and casino. Although scheduled to end in June, the show was later extended through August. Las Vegas Weekly said that MS.I.C had "game-changing potential" because it is the first time dance has headlined a show on the Las Vegas Strip. In contrast, the Las Vegas Review-Journal (LVRJ) criticized the show for being repetitious and for having a bare stage for the first 20 minutes. LVRJ also criticized the use of masks as not appealing to a casual viewer because it inhibited the dancers personality: "Even if a generational split is in play here, it would be tough to hear the creators argue that the show would suffer if, after 20 minutes or so -- gasp! -- makeup or clown-face replaced the masks to expand the original concept."

In October 2010, the show moved to the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino. Changes to the original show included a bigger stage, a new set, and added dance routines. called the new show "amazing" while described it as "a vibrant, frenetic and multi-genre extravaganza of visuals, sound and movement." In April 2012 the show moved again to a brand new theater at the Jupiters Hotel and Casino in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. Gold Coast Magazine gave the show a good review describing it as "magical... it truly does stir an emotional response through your soul and the combination of dance and drama make it appealing to all ages." The show moved for the last time in August 2012 to Harrah's Resort Atlantic City casino in New Jersey. gave it a lukewarm review: "The problem is that as good as Jabbawockeez is at what [they do], the novelty wears off about a third-way through the show... the bulk of the performance pretty much offers little more than variations on a theme. As such, Jabbawockeez would have much more impact as a featured act in a variety show than it has on its own."

So You Think You Can Dance

Most criticism of Tabitha and Napoleon's choreography has come as a result of their work on So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD). Over the course of their involvement with the show, they have received mixed reviews. At worst their choreography has been criticized as "softie hip-hop (more like 'hip-pop')". At best it has been described as "amazing" and "bring[ing] out the best in their dancers...".

Seasons four, five, and six

{{quote box|align=right|width=220px|bgcolor = #E6E6FA|quote="[Katee and Joshua] did a routine to my song, 'No Air,' and it was crazy to see how they moved to it. It was beautiful and I totally saw the story. I got chills... I played it 100 times."|source=Jordan Sparks

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