Parris Goebel is living her dream - and helping other Kiwi hip-hop dancers realise theirs.
Over the past four months, the 20-year-old has been hired by chart- topper Jennifer Lopez to choreograph moves for her upcoming world tour, appeared with her ReQuest dance crew mates on the American Idol final, and been hired with ReQuest to dance in the US superstar's official video for her latest hit, Goin' In.
Parris also led ReQuest to victory in the prestigious 2012 Body Rock dance competition in Los Angeles.
And she is among six members of the New Zealand all-girl dance crew to secure contracts to perform in Cirque Du Soleil's new production, a tribute to Michael Jackson's life and music.
Next week, Parris will be dancing for gold at The World Hip-Hop Dance Championships in Las Vegas.
"It  is a once in a lifetime opportunity," Parris told Sunday News. "I haven't really had time to reflect . . . everything has happened very fast and I feel very blessed.
"Everything has been really overwhelming and I probably won't have time to reflect until Christmas."
ReQuest's success was forged behind the tinted glass windows of The Palace Dance Studio, in the South Auckland suburb of Penrose.
The studio is owned and managed by Parris and her dad Brett Goebel, who also manages ReQuest.
Its philosophy is set out on the studio's website, with the message: "The Palace Dance Studio promotes a supportive, smoke-free, alcohol- free, no swearing, no arrogance and a friendly environment.
"The most important goal of The Palace is for each dancer to use hip- hop dance as a way to follow their dreams, from dancing for fun to dancing on the world stage."
Parris flew back into New Zealand from a choreography workshop in Rome, just a day before The Palace opened its doors to Sunday News on Tuesday.
She hoped ReQuest's and her own successes would spur on a new crop of Kiwi dancers.
"That is pretty much why we do what we do, to inspire and encourage kids," she said.
"We want to give them a home and somewhere where they can feel themselves.
"We want kids to do something positive with their lives. At a young age you have so many options . . . and dance is a very positive way to get kids active and doing something that they feel they can do something with."
It's a view shared by fellow ReQuest member Reimy Jones, who along with Parris, are the remaining members of the original crew formed in 2007.
Jones, 20, said: "New Zealand is so small but we are so talented [as a country]. Not only in dance, but in so many areas New Zealand is talented. I hope that ReQuest are a good example. "
Bianca Ikinofo, 21 - a ReQuest member since 2009 - added: "You come in here and you know that everyone wants the same thing as you . . . everyone is on the same pathway. We are fighting for the same career."
That spirit has seen the four crews from The Palace Dance Studios competing in this year's world hip-hop championships, training up to 14 hours a day in the lead-up to their departure for the US on Friday.
ReQuest won last year's world title. Another crew from The Palace - The Misfits - will go for gold in the adult category.
Eight members of ReQuest will join other dancers from the studio to compete in the mega-crew category.
On October 16, the six ReQuest members who secured Cirque Du Soleil contracts will head to Montreal, Canada, to prepare for the Jackson tribute, which will be performed in Las Vegas.
"Being able to do dancing as a career is something I had always wished for but never thought possible," said Jones, one of the six.
"Ever since I was little, and ever since I started dancing, every dancer looks up to Michael Jackson.
"I was like, 'One day when I become a famous dancer I am going to be a back-up dancer for Michael Jackson'. "
"So the opportunity to do the Cirque Michael Jackson show is the closest that you can get. It is a huge honour." Editorial - P13
- © Fairfax NZ News
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