The Emmy Awards Choreographers Nominee Reception felt more of a family affair than a ceremony, as members of television’s dance community greeted each other with open arms Sunday night at the Television Academy in North Hollywood. The evening was a full-blown celebration of dance, peppered with speeches from Academy members Kenny Ortega and Anita Mann, as well as numerous performances, including an opening number choreographed by Mandy Moore, Misha Gabriel, Michael Rooney, Tony Testa and Travis Wall, and special pieces from “Hit the Floor’s” Devil Girls, the Monsters of Hip Hop and Wall and Jaimie Goodwin.
“It’s wonderful,” exclaimed Derek Hough of being able to celebrate with his friends and colleagues. Hough is nominated for a third year for his work on “Dancing with the Stars” and said that being nominated is “such an incredible honor. Especially when you’re such a fan of everybody.”
“I’m a big fan of dance, so I was thrilled when they asked me to do this,” said “Modern Family’s” Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who hosted the event. Opening with an impression of “So You Think You Can Dance’s” Cat Deeley, Ferguson kept the night fun with entertaining bits, taking the stage to learn a custom routine from Moore and mistakenly preparing to dance with Wall – leotard included.
As they prepared to celebrate, this year’s Emmy nominated choreographers remarked at the growth in interest to see dance on television, noting that over 70 submissions from reality and scripted series went in to bid for five nominations.
“When did you know back in the day who choreographers were unless you knew dance?” asked Wall. Nominated for his third Emmy, Wall began his professional dance career as a contestant on “So You Think You Can Dance,” where he is now a series choreographer. “It’s awesome that we have this shed of light on this amazing industry and that people want more and more.”
“Every year it seems to get bigger and bigger and we’re so lucky to be in the midst of it,” said Tabitha D’umo. “We’ve been doing this for almost 20 years and we did it because we loved it – we never anticipated this being a reality.”
Prior to launching their careers as choreographers, D’umo had been a communications major, while her husband, Napoleon, was attending med school. The couple, now known to the dance world as Nappytabs, took a year off to see where a dance studio would take them and still aren’t used to the thrill of being nominated.
“It’s still weird,” said Mandy Moore of her own nominations. Moore has previously been nominated for her work on “So You Think You Can Dance,” and this year submitted for “Dancing With the Stars” as well. On stage for the reception Moore took the opportunity to thank those who give choreographers a creative space, while director and Academy governor Gail Mancuso hailed the choreographers as “lifesavers. You complete us,” she said.
“Dance is one of those things where people do it because they love it and they’re passionate about it,” said Hough. “For all the blood, sweat and tears that you put into it, the reward can be quite low compared to the amount of work that you put in — it’s such a passion driven art form and you can really see that and it’s incredible.”
“Everywhere you look you’re finding that dance and choreography have a good balance in programming,” noted Ortega.