Get To Know Parris Goebel, Nike Collaborator & The Choreographer Behind Rihanna’s Most Savage Moves


If there’s one thing we’ve learned in 2020, it’s that you can get inspired from anywhere — even when you’re lounging at home, thanks to brands like Nike who’ve teamed up with creatives from all around the world to keep us connected (and get us moving!) throughout quarantine. Earlier this year, the brand collaborated with choreographer Parris Goebel and her ReQuest dance crew for a series of workshops, and now the brand is back with Goebel to give us more. Today, the mastermind behind the moves to all your favourite videos (not to mention Rihanna’s epic Savage x Fenty fashion shows) will be answering all your questions live. All you have to do is tune into the @nikeaustralia YouTube channel!

Nike and Goebel have come together to help empower women through movement — the ethos at the heart of their label, and the driving message behind their new Nike Icon Clash line. Designed to “embrace youth culture, celebrate human imperfection and reflect the power in embracing who you are, with handpicked silhouettes adopted by the dance community,” the range features tights, bras, crops, track-pants, and sweatshirts focused on “self-expression for the ones who love one of the most joyful and democratic sports in the world.” Like Nike, Goebel works to democratise dance by making it accessible for all womxn, whether IRL or when they’re WFH. For her, movement is all about self-expression and the desire to bring those feelings of motivation and confidence to other girls around the world. “It’s essential for me as a woman to help younger girls realise their potential and help them achieve their goals,” she said of her ongoing mission. “This is why I’m excited to be partnering with Nike to share my journey and show other women and girls that anything is possible – you just need to follow your dreams and be fearless in the process.”

Ahead of today’s live Q+A, during which she’s answering questions submitted directly from women around the world, we were lucky enough to ask her a few of our own. Read our interview, below.

Hi Parris! Let’s start from the beginning: how did you get into dance?
It’s all I’ve known since the age of 3.

We read that J.lo discovered you on YouTube. How did you get from there to where you are now?
Hard work, hard work and more hard work.

Many people refer to your seminars and classes as “democratising dance.” What does that mean to you and why is it important?
Dance is all about movement and there is no right or wrong way for people to move to music. It is an expression that is universal and everyone can move to the music however they feel.

How does dance empower you and how do you use it to empower others?
Dance gives me the freedom to express myself and it allows my voice to be heard through movement to music. By sharing my choreography with others, it also allows them to be seen through movement; it allows them to be confident and passionate as they perform.

How has your collaboration with Nike allowed you to spread your message of empowerment through dance?
Nike is all about getting people to move. They have such a huge global presence that can spread the message to have fun and get moving through dance. Nike transcends countries and languages and lets us share the universal message to be yourself and express yourself through dance.

What inspires your movement and choreography?
Always the music. I listen to the music in my car and at home and then head into the studio and start creating what I feel, along with interpreting the musicality of the song.

How do you describe your dance style?
It depends on the music, but I can go from hard hitting to soft textures and always dance with my entire body and perform with all I’ve got.

You’ve collaborated with some of the biggest names in the industry — can you share with us some highlights or ‘pinch me’ moments?
Two highlights for me were choreographing the halftime performance at the Super Bowl for Jennifer Lopez in Miami. The other project I have loved doing is the Savage Fenty shows for Rihanna in New York and LA.

When choreographing for others, how do you find a balance between creating what the client wants while staying true to your own aesthetic?
I am fortunate that the clients hire me because of what I create so they all trust me and let me do my thing.

Is there anyone left on your dream list of collaborators that you haven’t worked with yet?
I have been fortunate to work with everyone that was on my list.

Your work in the dance and music spaces also intersects with fashion, particularly with your choreography for the Fenty show and also through your ongoing work with Nike. How does fashion inspire what you do, and how have you seen dance and music inspire fashion?
Fashion is the icing on the cake to my choreography. It is critical to ensure we get the right look, the right feel and the right pallet to bring the whole performance to life. Fashion is forever changing, and I have seen how music videos have had an impact on what people will wear or what they feel is cool. I love fashion and spend a lot of time working on what clothing will be worn for each performance I create.

How is it working with a brand like Nike? Is it important for you to always team up with brands that are likeminded, particularly when it comes to messages of inclusivity and empowerment?
Nike is all about girl power and the many things they have done to enhance women and girls around the world is very inspiring. Nike walks the talk.

Are you excited for Thursday’s live Nike Q+A session? What’s are you hoping people will want to talk about?
I am completely open to talking about questions from women all around the world.

Obviously, 2020 has been quite crazy — though you’ve still been working hard, with multiple digital events with Nike, the Fenty show, etc. How have things changed for you? And how have you made sure to keep yourself inspired?
Things haven’t really changed for me as I’m still as busy as always! The biggest change has been a physical presence to do the work, but that has just moved to digital. I am inspired by the world around me so keeping inspired is how I am every day.

How does dance help women find and form community? 
It gives women something in common regardless of where you are located in the world, what race you are, what language you speak or what your physical make up is. Dance brings a smile to every person it touches.

Has social media played a big role in forming your community? How do you use it to help women dance?
It allows me to have regular conversations with my following, let them know what’s happening in my life and keep connected with them. Through social media I get to promote dance and inspire women to dance and to be free.

Outside of dance, how do you like to stay creative?
Staying immersed in music, film, photograph, fashion, art and all things creative.

Whether you’ve been dancing forever or are just starting out, what’s the most important thing for people to remember when it comes to dance?
Live your best life.

What’s next for you?
Keeping changing the creative world we live in.


Tune into Parris’ live Q&A on the @nikeaustralia YouTube channel  AT 1:30pm (AEDT) on Thursday 26 November. Shop the Nike Icon Clash collection, here.

Images: courtesy of Nike