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Parris Goebel: Dancing Queen

Aug 27, 2013 Theatre

Manukau Institute of Technology dance students quiz Auckland-born hip hop dance superstar Parris Goebel.

Photo by Stephen Langdon.


Miley Cyrus’ cringey grinding and twerking at this week’s MTV Video Music Awards got us thinking about world champion hip-hop dancer and Aucklander, Parris Goebel. Two 20-year-olds in the spotlight. Two different approaches.

Goebel has worked in the same high octane pop circles as Miley Cyrus, choreographing for Jennifer Lopez and performing to an audience of 21 million on American Idol with her crew ReQuest, which trains at her dance studio in Penrose. Last year Metro took her along to the Manukau Institute of Technology and invited Bachelor of Performing Arts dance students to ask questions of their idol. We find her much more inspiring than Cyrus’ antics so we thought it a good time to relive this interview. Ahh. Now we feel better.

How did the name ReQuest come about?

We had a goal to be really well known, so we can be the most requested crew in the world. Back then, we would beg people to let us perform at Pasifika and Polyfest. We wanted to work so hard so people would eventually pay us to come to them. Which happened, so that’s pretty cool.

What do you look for in auditions?

Hunger. I’d rather choose someone who is going to work really hard with little talent than someone who has all the talent but isn’t willing to work hard.

Are there times when you find dance boring?

No way.

I have a question. It’s not even my class but this is so cool. I just texted my best friend to say, ‘Guess who I’m hanging out with, Parris!’ How did you come across Jennifer Lopez, because I was watching American Idol and I was buzzing out. It made me so proud to be a New Zealander.

It’s a really random story. Her boyfriend Casper… do you know Casper? All the magazines talk about him. Toy boy, or whatever. I met him when I was 16 at a dance event. He wasn’t going out with her at the time. He was a krumper. In the middle of this year he mailed me. He was like, “Would you be interested in doing some work for Jennifer Lopez?” I thought he was kidding because he was so casual. He Skyped me and said, “This is what you have to do, these are the songs; you have two days to set your footage to it.”

So I called up all my dancers. We worked on it all night and recorded it real quick. Then he sent me another song. I was real stressed. Casper was like, “She liked everything but we’ve already chosen our choreographers. If we want you in we have to persuade the directors to put you in the budget.” A week later he called and said we showed them your stuff and they loved it and you’re going to be part of the tour. I was like, “Okay.” Screaming, crying, everything you can imagine. I didn’t realise what was ahead of me but I knew it was a one-in-a-million opportunity.

My age is 45. I’m the oldest in our class. What are the words of encouragement or motivation that push you to achieve the things you do?

There are lot of things that I live by and the main one is: life is too short. I think you need to wake up every day and do something you love to do — otherwise you’re not really living. People say, “I don’t have a choice.” But you always have a choice. When I was 13, I wrote down all these goals in my journal. I didn’t want to settle for anything less than what was written on this piece of paper. Energy is a really important thing. Especially for you guys. When I walked in everyone was just chill and stuff, that’s okay but I think there is a really big tendency in New Zealand to hold back or be cool or shy.

The people who you are going to meet in your life are the people who are going to help you out. Everything matters. You have to have that energy about you. That hunger. That fight that you are going to do something with your life. You have to have that in you so anyone you meet you’re going to inspire them, or the other way around. It’s a two-way thing. That’s what I try to have with me always.

You’re living your dreams already — any future goals?

Man that’s weird. I got to go and write some goals.


First published Metro, October 2012.

Read more: ” My long-term goal is to build my own empire”. Writer Greg Bruce talks to Parris Goebel as she plans her next move. In the January/February 2015 Metro, on sale now.



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