When choreographer Parris Goebel prepares for a big project, whether that’s creating the movements for Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty fashion shows or coming up with dances for Justin Bieber’s music videos, she spends two to three months training with a group of dancers for eight hours a day.
“I don’t think people really understand what it takes to put together the projects that I do,” says Goebel over Zoom. “It’s on the same level as any other athlete.”
Nike, whose partnerships typically include professional athletes, designers, or music artists, is starting to reconsider the traditional definition of an athlete and partner with women like Goebel, artist Megan Thee Stallion, Peloton instructor Tunde Oyeneyin, and Chinese dancer Da Ting. This is a move by Nike to expand what it means to be an athlete and tap into their communities.
It seems to be working. According to Footwear News, during Nike’s “One Nike Marketplace” media event, Steve Scarpetta, the VP of North America Nike Direct digital commerce, said the wellness content Megan Thee Stallion launched on the Nike Training Club app drove record high engagement. Her workouts led to a 2x increase in daily active users on the app, and the looks she selected saw more than double the demand compared to other product content pushed during the same time period.
Much like Megan Thee Stallion’s Nike campaign, Goebel’s Own the Floor ad tells the story of her journey as a dancer and athlete. The first chapter of the series, “Dance Declaration,” shows Goebel performing her powerful choreography alongside music and a voiceover that speaks to the significance of movement through dance. After all four chapters are released, Goebel will invite dancers to share their own movement.
“Own The Floor is us opening our arms to the world. Inviting everyone to own their floor. To me that means owning your story, owning your identity or your style, owning the way you move, and being unapologetic about it,” says Goebel, a self-taught dancer from New Zealand who opened The Palace Dance Studio and competed in dance competitions before she got her first big break choreographing for Jennifer Lopez in 2012. “It’s our call out. It’s the start of a new conversation. It’s a new community.”
Here, Goebel talks about why she thought it was important to partner with Nike, what it takes to choreograph for some of the biggest artists in the world, and how she defines success—it has nothing to do with likes on IG.