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Choreographer Parris Goebel is the secret weapon behind Rihanna and J Lo’s most electrifying performances

She has choreographed for Rihanna, J Lo, Justin Bieber, and Arianna Grande. Now, she’s stepping into the spotlight as a director.

Choreographer Parris Goebel is the secret weapon behind Rihanna and J Lo’s most electrifying performances
[Illustration: Erick Davila]
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If Rihanna’s groundbreaking Savage x Fenty lingerie fashion show last fall—a music-and-dance extravaganza full of inclusivity and body positivity—made Victoria’s Secret seem like a relic, her secret weapon was choreographer Parris Goebel. Rihanna relied on the New Zealand native to create a spectacle (now streaming on Amazon) that had a diverse, 100-person group of models, activists, and dancers ferociously twerking, strutting, and celebrating across the stage. “There are so many stigmas around who should show themselves in lingerie that to put women of all shapes and sizes on a world stage in lingerie was a kick to all those brands who have made us feel like we’re not enough,” says Goebel, who recently received an Emmy nomination for her choreography on the show. She has also choreographed for the likes of Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber, directed music videos, and worked with Jennifer Lopez on February’s Super Bowl halftime show, which showcased Goebel’s award-winning dance crew, the Royal Family. Goebel—who will soon direct a film adaptation of her dance production “Murder on the Dance Floor” for Sony—is committed to giving dancers the credit they deserve. “Sometimes, we aren’t valued, especially when it comes to pay. So I try to make as much noise as possible within my artistry. People have no choice but to look at what [my dancers] are doing.” Here are some of Goebel’s most thrilling moments as dancer, choreographer, and director.

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THE SAVAGE X FENTY SHOW OPENER

Goebel set the tone for the rest of the 30-minute fashion show with this confrontational opening sequence that upends any notions of the model as mere mannequin.

DANCE COVER OF JUSTIN BEIBER’S “YUMMY” 

While the official video for “Yummy” is rather forgettable, Goebel’s underground effort is a masterwork in synchronized choreography and female empowerment. In directing the video, Goebel gives every member of her diverse dance crew a moment in the spotlight.

OFFICIAL VIDEO FOR TROYBOI’S “DO YOU?” 

Geobel herself is front and center in this video, which she choreographed and directed. Her all-female ReQuest dance crew gives the two-and-a-half minute earworm an unforgettable visual treatment.

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J LO’s SUPER BOWL HALFTIME SHOW

Goebel workshopped the choreography for a dance break in singer’s halftime performance with her New Zealand-based dance crew, which also took the stage during the show. You can her developing the routine in this behind-the-scenes video.