Parris Goebel presents the Royal Family NZ Tour
Wednesday 5 May 2021, Dunedin Town Hall
Reviewed by Sofia Kalogeropoulou
What a thrilling show to watch! The Royal Family Dance Crew toured the South Island for the first time including a performance at the Town Hall in Dunedin on Wednesday 5th May. The theatre was packed with a wide age range of fans of Parris Goebel and her Royal Family Dance Crew, who watched the show with awe and screamed with excitement throughout it, creating an electrifying atmosphere.
The two-hour show consisted of a combination of short films acting as a prelude to the different sections of the live performance, giving also a chance for the dance crew to change their slick outfits. From Pollyswagg Lesson 4 to Pink Parade, Between Throwbacks, Bruk Out, House of Blues and Behind the Scenes the footage took us through snap shots of the rehearsal process at the Palace Dance Studio in Auckland to the making of collaborative works with internationally acclaimed artists such as Rihanna for Savage Fenty, Ciara for Level Up and Jennifer Lopez for Super Bowl. The footage concluded with interviews from alumni members who shared their experiences working with Parris Goebel. Kiel Tutin in particular spoke about Parris’s exceptional work ethic as the driving force of their global success as well as his own personal career. He ended with a message to all young aspiring dancers in the audience to pursue their passion and follow their dream.
Needless to say, the performance was exhilarating and dynamic. The Crew – an army of female and male bodies – enter the stage with blasting energy that had every inch of their bodies exuding sassiness and displaying a sensual physicality. The movements were free-flowing and undulating, travelling up the body in a fluid manner and often finishing with a head spin that made the dancers’ ponytails fling around, adding a touch of femininity to the choreography. This was contrasted by abrupt contractions of ribs, shoulders and hips, bringing to the fore the musicality of each song. Similarly, the footwork was intricate and quick and the synchronicity of the dancers impeccable as they changed formations rapidly within the choreography. Of course, I cannot miss commenting on the hand gesture forming a crown on the dancer’s head that has become a trademark motif for the young Queen and her unique style.
Each choreography was distinct in its own right, funky and upbeat, showcasing Parris’s idiosyncratic style and the dancers’ strength and versatility. Dances such as Sorry and Level Up empowered both male and female dancers and allowed them to explore their sexuality through dancing. Cullen Neale gave an insane performance in Pink Parade of vogue-like moves on a pair of high heel kinky white boots, while Elvis Lopeti brought the house down with his whacking. By contrast, House of Blues set a different tone on stage: in an amalgamation of Jazz, Hip Hop and contemporary, the women told their story in a subtle yet intense way while the men threw themselves in daredevil plunges showing marvellous control within slowness. Regardless, both revealed their vulnerability and the way that relationships are tangible.
A special mention should also go to the local troupe from RASA School of Dance whose opening number was fierce, displaying plenty of attitude, determination and pure talent worthy of opening the Royal Family show.
Parris Goebel’s style, the Pollyswagg – a combination of Dance Hall, power, groove and musicality – is well known and recognisable nationally and internationally. It is unique and has won World Championships for 3 years in a row at the World Hip Hop Champs. It has also attracted over 10 billion views of the varied music videos produced, but to see it live and in action is definitely an unforgettable experience. I left the show pumped and wishing I had a ponytail to fling around like the dancers did in their routines. Humour aside, I was full of admiration for the Crew’s stamina, dedication and work ethos and above all respect for Parris’s creativity and artistic flair – she is a Queen.
Images: Rachel Soh - @sohrachsoh