Allison Holker, Derek Hough, Sonya Tayeh, Napoleon Dumo, Neil Patrick Harris, Tabitha Dumo, Travis Wall, and Mandy Moore on stage at the 65th Emmys
October 09, 2013
In The Mix

First Dance

Choreography nominees make their Primetime Emmy debut.

It started with a surprise — and a challenge.

When Primetime Emmy host Neil Patrick Harris showed up unexpectedly at a gathering of this year’s choreography nominees, he had big news: their Emmy category, which traditionally has been announced at the Creative Arts Awards, would be part of the primetime telecast. What’s more, they would all showcase their talents in an original dance number.

“We thought a good thing to do would be to have a big production number in the show,” Harris told them in a videotaped sequence that aired during the September 22 telecast.

“We’ve set this up reality show style because we have a challenge: you can choose music, you can choose sets, you can choose dancers. You all have to be involved in some way — and you have to include me.”

Fast forward to concept sessions — “These little flats represent rooms on wheels... they all can wheel in and lay out in front of a video cube,” explained choreographer Tabitha D’umo, selling the group’s idea to the show producers — and rehearsals.

Cut to the live broadcast. With Harris singing the Frank Loesser classic “Luck Be a Lady Tonight” — followed by Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” — the dance number featured vignettes celebrating nominated shows Mad Men, Game of Thrones, American Horror Story: Asylum, Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad and The Big Bang Theory.

Choreographers Derek Hough, Allison Holker, Sonya Tayeh, Mandy Jo Moore, Napoleon and Tabitha D’umo and Travis Wall worked separately and together to create the montage, which featured 27 dancers — and Harris, of course.

And the Emmy winner? Hough, of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. “Thank you, guys!” an elated Hough said, Emmy in hand. “And thank you to the Emmys for inviting us to this party!”

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