6 Oct 2020

Māori and Pasifika talent feature at Rihanna's Savage x Fenty launch

From Midday Report, 12:44 pm on 6 October 2020

Māori and Pasifika talent have taken the international stage by storm in the latest launch for Rihanna's lingerie brand Savage x Fenti. The show was choreographed by leading New Zealander dance practitioner Parris Goebel MNZM.

Parris Goebel

Parris Goebel Photo: Supplied

It's the third show Goebel, Member of the NZ Order of Merit for her services to dance, has choreographed a show for Rihanna.

Members of Goebel's dance crew Royal Family and all-female Auckland hip-hop crew ReQuest travelled to America for the pre-recorded fashion launch on Amazon Prime. 

The show is receiving high praise internationally, with the star-studded performance including Lizzo, Demi Moore, Bella Hadid, Christian Combs and many more. 

The show's focus has always been diversity and inclusion - with this year's launch being no different. 

"Our first year we broke the stereotypes and used one of the most diverse and inclusive cast that the fashion world has ever seen, so third time around we were trying to really push the envelope, and it was really well received," Goebel said. 

Nine dancers of Māori and Pasifika whakapapa were among the performers - including eight women from Goebel's dance company, as well as Lance Savali in the male cast.  

Parris Goebel said the significance was important.

"It is really big, huge. I think it is showing our youth, our people, that anything is possible. We have all worked so hard to get this opportunity and to be able to perform on such a big platform. 

"I think it really shows if you do work hard and you dream big, and never give up, that anything is possible. I think that it is just paving the way for our own people - especially our youth - showing them it can be done," Goebel said. 

She said the Covid-19 pandemic made for a production like no other, with a range of logistical challenges, including some New Zealand dancers having to do the two weeks mandatory quarantine on their return. 

"What was different, was the fact we were doing it in the middle of a pandemic; it was such a challenge for us - having to dance in masks for the whole rehearsal, and then also social distance while you are trying to dance close but you can't, it was really challenging."

And based on the reception internationally - the challenges had no impact on the final product, with a review from Vogue calling it 'unreal'. 

"Parris Goebel's energetic choreography is used to great effect, bringing energy to the proceedings from the very first scene. 

"From the minute Goebel moves across the screen in fishnet stockings and a black bustier, you know that you're in for a thrilling adventure," Vogue said.

Parris Goebel is currently still in the US, and although she cannot reveal her upcoming projects, she said she was "working on big things, that's for sure."