Parri$ Young Queen
Author: Parris Goebel
Publisher: Mary Egan Publishing
Reviewed by Ufitia Sagapolutele
Aotearoa’s Queen of Dance, Parris Goebel, details her journey through the highs and lows as a world-renowned choreographer, dancer and artist who has choreographed for international pop artists, including Janet Jackson, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez and Nicki Minaj.
Parris is a strong independent Samoan-Kiwi woman who has taken the world by storm. Throughout her book, Young Queen, Parris takes readers on her journey of uncertainty, insecurity and the lead up to the start of her career. Using a combination of text, images, letters to herself and from her Dad, she clearly articulates the challenges she has faced and her determination to make this career a reality, despite those who questioned or laughed at her. Parris also talks about her experiences through mental health during high school that led her to eventually leave school at 15 to pursue a career in dance.
Parris shares her experiences of family, dance life, struggles and opportunities through images and life lessons that have shaped her. You cannot deny the incredible qualities this woman possesses. With all the opportunities she has received through hard work and dedication, the role her family have played is clear; they are very important to Parris and they keep her grounded.
The book is easy to follow and a great guide for readers to follow their dreams. Parris breaks it down in the “Parris Process”, outlining the six steps she follows in her creative process. As a creative, I can relate to her first step, “my creativity is a person”, in so many ways. I am constantly researching and speaking to my work as if it was in front of me, a family member living and breathing. It is not just a dance work, it is a reality and it’s affirming to see that Parris views her creative work in the same way.
Young Queen was beautifully written, and Parris’ voice comes through very strongly throughout the book. I felt I was having a one-on-one conversation with her. It’s really personal and I got an insight into Parris Goebel, the person behind social media and her creative processes. As a dancer and choreographer myself, learning of the hardships she encountered as a high school dropout, and creating her own opportunities through passion and determination is inspirational. I have been through experiences of family loss, struggles and have wanted to give up, but I did not let my experiences define who I am. I am so glad that someone I look up to can relate to what I have been through, even if our circumstances are different. Parris personifies passion, hard-work and dedication, and Young Queen shows readers what can be achieved if one remains true to these qualities.
I would recommend this book to anybody wishing to pursue a career in dance, or just has a dream they want to make a reality. Thank you Parris for representing Pacific Islanders and Kiwis; it is clear you are proud to be Samoan. You are setting a great example for our youth to dream big, work hard and never give up, but above all, in Parris’ words, ‘don’t be afraid to DIY your own destiny’.
Young Queen is on shelves now