Parris Goebel | If You Can Dream It You Can Do It

Author: Diandra Barsalou / Photos: Nike
11.19 / MB Series

MISSBISH catches up with internationally renowned choreographer Parris Goebel on putting in work. From teaching herself moves as a little girl in New Zealand, to choreographing videos for Ciara, Justin Bieber, and Rihanna, Parris has always remained true to artistry, her dreams, and the work.

You’ve been putting in work around the world, choreographing videos for Ciara, Justin Bieber and Rihanna, as well as touring with your dance crew, The Royal Family. How do you do manage to do it all and then some?
A lot of hard work. The most important thing is enjoying what you do, I think when you love something you’ll put in as much hard work as you need to in order to chase your dreams. I’m living my dreams and I’m doing exactly what my dreams were when I was a little girl. Although it’s a lot at times and can get very stressful, I have to remind myself that there’s nothing else I’d rather do.

When was the first time you understood what it meant to put in the work and how has your definition of the term changed?
Honestly, all my life I’ve been raised to work hard and put in the work, so I think it was just super natural for me. The first time it really showed was when I did the Justin Bieber project. It was crunched for time and there wasn’t as big of a budget as most people thought, so it was the first time I felt really pushed and stretched in that way. Working hard has always meant the same thing to me… I have to maintain the standard of art I want to create - I’m such a perfectionist. I think if anything, I’ve been putting in more work over the past few years.

When you were learning to dance as a girl in New Zealand, emulating music videos, were you consciously learning steps like you were studying them, or did that come later on?
I was consciously learning, and trying to imagine myself in the videos, like most little kids do, so yeah definitely at a young age.

In 2012, you were discovered by JLo on Youtube. What was that like getting the call? What was it like going from high schooler to full-time working choreographer?
It was amazing, a dream come true. Being from New Zealand, sometimes you have to go out and find your opportunities, and realize your dreams your own way. I had to pinch myself. It wasn’t overnight, it was over a couple years. I prepared myself for that moment and I was ready for it, so when it happened it was an incredible opportunity but at the same time I was really ready for that opportunity.

You started dancing at a young age, what are some of the first goals you can remember setting for yourself as a girl?
Some of the first goals I set were to open my own dance studio, to become an internationally known choreographer, and to travel the world dancing.


"The advice I give to young people is to be fearless. When we dream, a lot of the times our fear can get in the way."


Did working with Rihanna on fashion week spark a bigger interest in fashion going forward?
I’ve always been interested in fashion, it’s something I’m really passionate about and would definitely do more of in the future.

Is there a major difference between choreographing music videos to shows at NYFW?
There is a big difference, there’s actually a difference in everything. Every project is very different for me, no two projects that I’ve done have been similar, everything is so unique to the artists or to the process itself, there are different things that control the artistry of each piece that I do.

Did you find that as you advanced to new levels and mastered more intricate moves, your creativity and your intuition grew as well?
Growth comes from anything and everything, it could come from countries that I’ve travelled to or food that I’ve tried. Evolving as an artist and a creative is all about exploring and trying new things. If I can grow as a person, I can grow as a creative and a dancer.

I’m a feeler and I feel things, I work off of what I feel in my soul and my energy and my aura. The more I create, the more I become in touch with my intuition, it definitely controls my creative process. Everything I do is a reaction to how I feel. I’m constantly paying attention to what my gut is saying and what I feel is right, I try not to overthink things.

How did your approach to your craft and your daily life change as you matured as a leader in a very creative and emotional field?
I think the key changes I’ve seen in myself are that I’ve become more of a confident individual and woman and really take full control and creative vision of my career and my future. Being confident as a female has been helpful for me, and actually just really essential in order for all these things I’ve planned to make their way into my journey. I really believe in manifesting so a lot of the things I’ve done are things that I’ve dreamed of, put into the universe and brought about. I think being confident in my vision and in the things I can do have been essential for me.

You recently published your autobiography, Young Queen. How did you find time to write a book between all the work you’re doing?
It took me about a year, it was definitely something I had to take my time with and be patient with. It was such a personal, emotional experience that I wanted to make sure I was being honest with what I was sharing. I wanted to put everything that I’ve been through into words in a way that everyone could relate to and understand.

It feels like your career is still on the upswing and there’s plenty more around the corner. What’s it like to chronicle your life when you’re still so young and relatively new to the industry?
I’m not new to the industry, I’ve been in the game for a long time.

As a dancer, you’ve inspired a lot of young people to take on their dreams. When you talk to young people— especially your students —what advice do you give them?
The advice I give to young people is to be fearless. When we dream, a lot of the times our fear can get in the way. I tell them to be fearless within their journey, to work hard and most importantly focus on what they think of themselves rather than what other people think. A lot of the time judgement from other people can get us down so it’s important to have a firm opinion of your own work and yourself as a person. Part of my role with Nike is to mentor up and coming female dancers, believing in yourself will be a key focus here.

Typically, you have three days to work on a video, from the initial concept to teaching the choreography to the artists. What does that process look like? Have you gotten to a point where you can just take that in your stride and it not overwhelm you?
Sometimes it takes less than three days, sometimes more — every project is different. Most of the time it doesn’t overwhelm me. Usually I’ll just listen to the song, send through a treatment of ideas, and I can knock it (the choreography) out pretty quick with my girls at home and then we usually shoot it within one day.

What’s next for Parris Goebel? What do you see for the future of choreography?
Right now I’m trying to get more into film and television. It’s (choreography) evolving so fast, especially with the power of social media. I think there are a lot of positive opportunities coming into the world of dance and also a lot of negative. It’s about acknowledging true talent and uplifting people that have that special talent because the market is oversaturated. It’s about really searching to find who is unique and who is a trendsetter and who can do something fresh that’ll change the game.

Parris and her crew will be performing this Sunday, November 25th at Nike's 2018 Battle Force Melbourne - an event celebrating the iconic Air Force 1. If you're in town be sure to come hang out with them! 

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