In Bustle’s Quick Question, we ask women leaders all about advice — from the best guidance they’ve ever gotten to what they’re still figuring out. Here, celebrity choreographer Parris Goebel tells Bustle about falling in love with dance, leaving her home country of New Zealand, and refusing to give up.
If you’re a widely recognized choreographer whose work is emulated millions of times over, you might get used to going viral. But Parris Goebel still gets excited every time someone learns and films the choreography she did for Jennifer Lopez’s 2020 Super Bowl halftime show performance.
“I love what I do and of course everyone I work with, but seeing my work being shared and everyone’s reactions to the routine was a whole other level,” Goebel tells Bustle. “Honestly, there are no words to express how appreciative I am.”
The 29-year-old multi-hyphenate — choreographer, dancer, and singer — has worked with everyone from Justin Bieber to Rihanna for her famed Savage X Fenty fashion show. And she recently added another title to her ever-growing repertoire: UGG ambassador. Goebel is starring in the brand’s Fall 2021 apparel campaign, a role that fits right in with her “cozy, chic, and versatile” wardrobe.
Alongside Goebel, the Ugg campaign features singer-songwriter Kim Petras and models Maye Musk, Duckie Thot, and Fernanda Ly. Each star was asked to style core Ugg clothing items — like a tracksuit and teddy jacket — so that all their outfits were reflective of their personalities.
“I absolutely love the Mandy jacket I wore in the leopard print,” says Goebel. “That jacket, pairing it with the bold red lip I had, is perfect for any day out. Also, who doesn’t love leopard print?”
Below, Goebel tells Bustle how she finds time to recharge, the best business advice she ever received, and the career milestone she’s most surprised by.
Take us back to when you first started working as a choreographer. What pushed you to go for it?
I’ve loved dancing ever since I can remember. I formed a dance group when I was a young teen. Things really took off from there. Once I came to the U.S. from New Zealand and discovered there are opportunities to make a career out of dancing, I knew I had to go for it. No question about it.
In those early years, what was the toughest challenge you faced, and how did you overcome it?
Leaving home for sure. I was a young girl the first time I came to the U.S. Leaving everything and everyone I knew behind in New Zealand — most of all my family — was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. I’m just so grateful they’re so supportive.
When you look back on your journey, what surprises you the most?
Everything. There are so many people I’ve worked with and experiences I’ve had that when I look back, I can’t believe I was involved in any way. I mean, choreographing J.Lo’s world tour and then Super Bowl performance are both up there.
What’s the most valuable business advice you’ve ever received?
Dream big. Just know you can achieve anything if you are willing to work hard.
On the flip side, what’s the worst business advice you’ve ever received?
I was at a competition and was told, “Girls will never win.” That fueled me to not listen to that advice and make sure I was successful in all things I did moving forward.
How do you recharge? What does your typical self-care routine look like?
If I’m able to go away, even if just for the weekend, that’s my go-to. Preferably leaving my phone behind — or at least not checking it as much, so I can really disconnect and be present.
What does an aspiring choreographer need to know in order to be successful?
Never, ever give up. It’s difficult. There are long hours [and] a ton of training. You may not be able to do something right off the bat or have a hard time landing a certain move, but honestly, it’s all about practice. The more you do it, the more you’ll surprise yourself with the things your body can do.
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