Season 4 of So You Think You Can Dance brought a new Hip-Hop choreographer duo onto the scene and they are the focus of my next choreographer highlight: Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo, or as they are affectionately known… NappyTabs.

Check out the highlights of their work on SYTYCD after the jump…

Until they hit the scene, hip-hop on So You Think You Can Dance had been more of what you would imagine to see out of hip-hop… a lot of hard hitting moves. And that had been, on many occasions, fantastic. But these two brought something new to the table. They created hip-hop routines that told a story, that was usually more heartfelt and had a sense of contemporary dance put in. Their lyrical hip-hop routines changed the face of hip-hop on the show.

Right from the start, they made an impact. Their first routine was with the seemingly perfect duo of Katee Shean and (eventually Season 4 Winner) Joshua Allen. I remember watching it (in a hotel room – I was on vacation) and thinking, “Ohhh… wow. This is so much more than I expected.” It was a beautiful story but still used a lot of the same moves found in a regular hip-hop routine. More importantly – it made the judges take notice. This ‘lyrical hip-hop’ was something new to watch out for.

 

But as gorgeous as the “No Air” routine was, it was soon overshadowed by one of my favorite routines ever on the show. I’ll admit, I probably watch it at least once every couple months. And if I ever hear the song “Bleeding Love” on the radio I start to do the dance in my head. I’ve basically memorized the choreography by now. “No Air” may have opened eyes as to what lyrical hip-hop could be, but Chelsie Hightower and Mark Kanemura’s Season 4 dance to that Leona Lewis song was a game changer. All other lyrical hip-hop routines on the show since have had to try to live up to it.

And not to take away from NappyTabs’ brilliant choreography – but they lucked out with those two dancers. I don’t think it would have done as well without Mark and Chelsie. They sold that story from the moment the first note hit and were 100% committed to it.

 

The problem with having a routine as impressive and memorable as Bleeding Love is that it can be hard to live up to it. And NappyTabs did suffer a bit in Season 5. But in Season 6 they did come back with a great routine that showed all their hip-hop moves did not have to be lyrical. In the “Intro Show” the pair choreographed a routine that showed the world the three amazing hip-hop dancers that would be on the show. B-Boy Legacy, Hip-Hop dancer Kevin and eventual Season 6 Winner, Krumper Russell Ferguson. “Beggin'” showed the trio’s ability to dance with others and showed off their individual talents.

 

Season 7 was a magical season in a lot of ways as the addition of the All-Stars seemed to bring out the best in many of the choreographers. Not the least of which was NappyTabs. Week after week they were on fire and make use of people you wouldn’t expect to see excel in hip-hop routines, like adorable winner Lauren Froderman who was paired on multiple ocassions with one of the best ever on the show – Stephen “Twitch” Boss. One was a western and one a political send-up. Everything they brought to the stage for the dancers was magic.

But one…. well, one stood out more than the rest. It was one of those routines that transcended the show. Even my husband who had never watched an episode was stunned by the sheer genius of “Outta My Mind.” Having ballet dancer Alex Wong paired up with Twitch seemed like a bizarre mix. How do they dance together? NappyTabs simply played up the oddness of the scenario and created a routine that won them an Emmy and had it not been for a season ending Achilles injury, quite possibly could have won Alex the title of America’s Favorite Dancer.

Unfortunately, embedding has been disabled here, but go check it out here. It’s the best hip-hop routine ever on the show, bar none.

Season 8 wasn’t as full of the highlights for this duo – but who knows what is to come in Season 9. Hopefully more greatness from this talented pair!

Written by Melissa Miller. Find her on Twitter @serrae

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