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  • Fri, 11, Oct, 2019 - 5:00:AM

Parris Goebel: queen of choreography (and our hearts)

Parris Goebel / Wikimedia Commons

Parris Goebel is the freakiest thing to come out of New Zealand — and I say this with all the love and admiration in my heart.

She’s got an insane amount of confidence and ambition. She became a CEO at 17 after starting her own dance academy. 

She has worked with the biggest names in entertainment (Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lopez, Nicki Minaj) and continues delivering industry-changing power moves like a true feminist icon.

A large part of my awe for Parris comes from her incredible work ethic. 

She started dancing at 10, and by the time she was 15 had decided to make it as a choreographer. It required travelling abroad, dropping out of high school and attending conferences and workshops alone.

Very few teenagers I know have the direction and drive Parris did to forge the reality she wanted for herself. Eleven years later Parris is one of the most sought-after choreographers in the world because, as we’ve seen, she makes shit happen. 

For example:

Parris directed all thirteen of Justin Bieber’s Purpose: The Movement music videos. 

She was named by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as New Zealand’s Entertainment and Cultural Curator for the Dubai 2020 World Expo. 

She, with her sisters, founded the Sisters United organisation that delivers empowering conferences to young women.

She’s the headline choreographer of the Tempo Festival in Auckland, her show ‘GIRL’ having sold out before performances even began.

And most recently, Parris was the “god given genius” behind Rihanna’s trail-blazing New York Fashion Week show.

Emilia Petrarca, fashion writer for The Cut, said of Savage x Fenty’s (Rihanna’s lingerie line) show that “my palate has been so thoroughly cleansed, I forget how deprived I was before. Now, there is only pre-Fenty and post-Fenty.” 

The collaboration between Rihanna and Parris for the Savage x Fenty show spawned one of the most liberating moments in women’s fashion (available to watch on Amazon Prime.) It redefined sexiness from a look, to a feeling.

Not only were there models of every size, colour and ability, the feel of the 45-minute piece was more of a concert than a runway. Models, dancers and musical acts shared the stage, seamlessly shifting on and off.

The women mimed masturbating. They grabbed each other’s butts. There was a BDSM scene. Which might sound only natural for a show advertising lingerie.

But if you watch the Savage show and all the other lingerie shows that have come before, the difference is clear. Before, long-legged models would strut down the runway, smile sultrily at cameras and a voyeuristic audience. Their job was to look good.

“I don’t care about any skinny Victoria’s Secret model when I look at Parris,” Rihanna told The Cut. “I want to be that woman on the inside. I want to feel that bombastic. She gives me so much hope.”

If you’ve ever watched The Royal Family or ReQuest (two of Parris’ dance crews) perform, you might notice that the dancers don’t often smile. They undulate and gyrate with a cutting, icy expression on their face that screams “you cannot handle this. Step back.” The same badass attitude is encapsulated in the Savage show. 

“The dancers were in full control of their bodies, and it was that energy that gave them sex appeal,” said Petrarca.

Their job was to feel good. Their only duty was to themselves, to be themselves. And that’s exactly what the women of Savage x Fenty did. What Parris brought from the dance world into the fashion industry is a strong dose of I-don’t-give-a-fuck. Choreographers don’t care about observers or conventions.

This is for me. This is for us.

At the end of the show, someone screamed “I LOVE THESE WOMEN!”

I feel you. I love them, too.


  • Dance /
  • Tempo Dance Festival /
  • Parris Goebel /
  • Rihanna /
  • New York Fashion Week /
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