Justin Bieber's 'Sorry’: Meet the Choreographer Behind Video's Flashy Moves

Pop's hottest dance mastermind Parris Goebel talks working with Janet, daring to be different

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Parris Goebel
"They asked me to create the video, I made it, I sent it to them, and they loved it," says Parris Goebel of "Sorry." Kendal Collins

Justin Bieber's latest music video, "Sorry," launched last week and has racked up well over 30 million views. For every girl dreaming of seeing Bieber's chiseled abs floating across a dance floor, refer to the song's title. But there's no lack of entertainment in the flashy, colorful all-girl dance clip, which has fans worldwide attempting to gyrate and twerk-crawl across the floor in tribute to the moves on display.

Parris Goebel, the 23-year-old New Zealand choreographer who cameos in the "Sorry" video, is also the mastermind behind it. (She's wearing an all-black jumpsuit and Timberlands, and she holds the "We heart JB" sign at the end.) Goebel is gaining traction. Fast. She created routines for massive summer tours like Nicki Minaj's Pinkprint run and Janet Jackson's Unbreakable World Tour. And she and her crew, ReQuest — the highest-ranking group of dancers from Goebel's studio, the Palace — are World Hip-Hop Dance champions: The team, featured in "Sorry," has previously created multiple videos with millions of views.

Goebel is humble, but her style, which she's branded "Polyswagg," is anything but. We spoke with her about "Sorry," where her inspiration comes from, and what it's like to be one of the hottest choreographers in the game.

So how did you get involved with the Bieber video?
They called me. I haven't worked with Justin [in person] yet. It was kind of simple ... They asked me to create the video, I made it, I sent it to them, and they loved it. They just posted it. It wasn't anything too crazy — pretty straightforward. 

How did you come up with the concept for the video?
The girls are my crew, and they are the company that I dance with. We've known each other for years. I knew what style I wanted — like Nineties — but we all pretty much brought clothes. I brought my entire wardrobe and just started checking different clothes on different girls.

We knew we were going [to make a] dance video, and I just kind of followed the idea of doing it in a white room to make it really clean.

Where do you get a lot of your movements from? Who are your inspirations?
Usually just the music ... I don't really like to anticipate or prepare things. For me, it's all about being impulsive with exactly how I feel at that moment, with the song or the people around me. I'm always inspired by the moment — the song, the people around me, the imagery in the room — it's all about that moment. That's how I get inspired the most

What was it like to film "Sorry"?
It is very chill, and it is very fun and spontaneous, like when you get comfortable with a group of people and you can just have fun. We usually dance around and try different things, pretty much just going with the flow.

How does it feel now that the video is blowing up?
I'm always doing my own thing, so it just feels good to have your art — your work — appreciated by people who are outside the dance world. It's always a really cool feeling. So yeah, this is cool. I love what I do. I really do love it, and I do it for the love. It's always a really cool feeling when people pay attention to what you're doing, and they show love and respect to it. 

You're young to be getting so much traction.
I mean, honestly, like, I've worked so hard for so many years. It's definitely been a gradual journey. It didn't happen overnight. I'm grateful. I wouldn't say I woke up, and like, "Wow!" I'm just very, very grateful where my life has ended up. I work with different artists and different projects, so I get to do this everyday, which is cool. And I've [worked] with the artists I wanted to, and I am very open-minded to different artists, so whatever happens, happens. I love to just go with the flow and not expect anything.

I just recently choreographed the Janet Jackson world tour, and it's definitely a dream come true for me. It's something I'm really proud of. She's an icon. She's a legend, so that's an honor for anyone that's in her presence.

Do you have any advice to other dancers who look at you and would say, "I would love to be doing that right now"?
Obviously, hard work is a big one, but it's more than hard work. It's confidence in what you have to offer because a lot of people spend a lot of the time trying to be someone they're not or following something or trying to fit in. The moment I realized that I have something different to offer, I really embraced it and was just confident in it. 

Obviously, it took me years, but I just had to wait for the world to notice that what I have to offer is something special. I had to really be patient, and when my time came, I had to work really hard on my own craft.

I would say it's a mixture between confidence, hard work, and also when that opportunity comes, just give it your all. A lot of times, we're scared and hold back, but I think when you work hard and are a good person, I really do believe good things will come to you.

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