Letter to My Teenage Self: Tabitha and Napoleon D'Umo

The dance gods must have been smiling when Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo first met at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Who would have guessed that an army veteran from California (Napoleon) and a cheerleader from New Jersey (Tabitha) would join forces and eventually take over the commercial hip-hop world?

(Photo by Jennifer Johnson, courtesy the D'Umos)

Since the two started performing with the dance crew Culture Shock in the 1990s, they’ve been inseparable, working with artists including Madonna, Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez. They’ve also choreographed for “America’s Best Dance Crew” and “Dancing with the Stars,” though they’re most known for their work on “So You Think You Can Dance,” which has earned them two Emmy Awards. When they’re not designing new pieces for their dancewear line Nappytabs, you can catch the couple (and parents of two-and-a-half-year-old son London) on tour with Monsters of Hip Hop and Velocity Dance Convention and Competition. —Jenny Dalzell

Dear Teenage Tabitha & Napoleon,

Slow down. We know that the future seems like an eternity from now. But from where we’re sitting, the last 20 years feel like only a moment. So don’t waste an hour—make every second count. You’re busy, and it can be challenging to make enough time for anything or anyone. But make time for family.

Remember that life is pretty simple—it’s we who insist on making it complicated. Stay focused on the positive things and the rest will fall into place. Make decisions with your heart; it knows more than you do.

If you fall out of love with what you’re doing, don’t be afraid to move on. And failing once doesn’t mean you’ll fail every time. You will fail, however, if you don’t learn from your mistakes.

Fight for what’s important to you, but be conscious of your approach when speaking up. If you speak out of anger, odds are, your message won’t be heard as clearly. And never let the envy you might feel for another turn into jealousy or hatred. Instead, use that energy as motivation to work harder.

Get ready for a wonderful adventure. In college, you’ll meet your best friend and the love of your life.

xoxo,

Nappytabs

P.S. Adults are always telling you that hard work pays off. They’re 100 percent right.

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