Losing My Shit Over Polyswagg

Earth has borne witness to unstoppable forces of nature – earthquakes, volcanos, hurricanes and The Royal Family.

TW: extreme fangirling

Crowns UP!

The Royal Family are so fucking badass. I’m hooked. Tautoko these bitches all day – literally. Maybe a little too literally…

For the past 48 hours I’ve been on a very real YouTube marathon – watching all their music videos, international competitions, rehearsals, live shows, interviews, et al. I’ve been sedentary for so long that my body has basically shut down and I’m not sure if my vital organs are still functioning . There’s a wooly blanket draped over me and I’ve pulled the heater so close it is almost burning my skin. #healthyliving2016.

“Polyswagg is combining sassy woman fire with aggressive inner strength.” – Parris Goebel

If you’re unfamiliar with the Polyswagg stylings of The Royal Family, I recommend you start with their performance at last year’s World of Dance Championships in L.A.  I’m warning you *passes figurative internet spliff*, this is your a gateway link~~~

Every nanosecond is crafted to compliment the next. They’re the human manifestation of 30 strobe lights going at all once. It’s all a little overstimulating. Excuse me while I put my crowns UP.

The Queen of the Royal Family (/the world) is the chameleon-like choreographer, videographer and visionary Parris Goebel. She’s 24 and already an eight time World Champion. We talking ELITE. She won Young New Zealander of the Year in 2014, which for someone with that much gold in the trophy cabinet, is not that big a deal.


Parris. Image / B. Alyse.

Parris. Image / B. Alysse.


Hailing from South Auckland with Polynesian pride, Goebel has been a force on the international stage since she was a teen. With a shaved head, self-confidence for days and holy-shit-how’d-you-even-think-of-that wardrobe, Goebel is at once incredibly inspiring and incredibly intimidating. She knows who she is, what she wants and where she’s going.

Alongside The Palace Dance Studio she started when she was 15, Parris is working with stars like J-Lo, Janet Jackson and Justin Bieber and casually posting photos of Kanye on Instagram. World domination doesn’t stop there – her cream of the crop crew ReQuest have just done a video with CL, one of the biggest names in that vast musical otherworld of K-Pop.

CL – ‘Hello Bitches’
Director, Producer, Choreographer: Parris Goebel

Dancers: ReQuest Dance Crew

The Royal Family is comprised of ReQuest, Sorority, Duchesses, Kings and the junior division Bubblegum.

Together they are a flaming fireball of intensity that flares between spastic twitches and slow-motion body rolls, contracting and expanding into space with breakneck speed. It’s unimaginable how choreography like this is put together – a well-oiled machine engineered by Parris Goebel and her right hand man Kiel Tutin.

Soundtracks are known for featuring cuts of hip-hop, Jamaican dancehall, Harlem house, dubstep and a healthy dose of remixed Rihanna and Missy. And all that is good in this world, Queen Bey.

It’s an incredible display of athleticism, agility and discipline, as well as a boatload of sass. While Parris is always unpredictable, there are a few trademark Polyswagg motifs such as the spine-defying Matrix bullet dodge (Keanu Reeves eat your heart out), caterpillar formation booty slap, the pigtail propeller twirl and that glitchy, full body twerking.

Individual personas burn bright within a unified whole, each dancer is at the top of their game – and if anything, the choreography showcases the absence of any weak links. And of course, the styling, hair, fashion… everything is so on point.

Dancers: Sorority
Choreographer: Kiel Tutin and Parris Goebel

There’s a traditional performance in Sichuan called bianlian 变脸, face changing. No offence to this celebrated and ancient tradition, but the Palace now own the face changing game. Sweet schoolgirl smiles to fearsome Exorcist gurning, sexy bedroom eyes to ‘bitch Imma rip your face off’ pukana.

Their self-branding is also excellent – The Palace Dance Studio, The Royal Family, Duchess, Kings, the famous ‘Crowns Up!’ salute – the use of gold, regal costuming and general extravagance, all binding into a self-assured status of imperial, Poly-saturated domination. It’s an empire you want to be part of. The Palace has become a mecca for elite young dancers in New Zealand, with several members having moved themselves and their families to Auckland just to train there. Much of the core crew in ReQuest are under 18. Bow down.

Parris also directs and edits videos from the Palace with inimitable swag – clever swipe transitions and forward-surging tracking shots have become the Royal trademark, which capture the incredible talent of the dancers into beautifully curated works of art. She’s always keeping the viewer on their toes, weaving through unusual spaces, bouncing off walls – each video is action packed without feeling overdone.

The Royal Family | Polyswagg Lesson 2
Concept and editing: Parris Goebel
Choreography: Parris Goebel, Laurence Kaiwai, Lance Savali

Despite becoming a global superstar, Goebel has chosen not to move to Los Angeles and instead oversees her kingdom from Auckland, where she continues to recruit predominantly female, Maori and Polynesian dancers into her ranks and shoot world-class music videos all on home soil. Respect. Case in point:

Last October, Parris and the ladies of ReQuest Dance Crew dropped this dancehall inspired video for Justin Bieber’s ‘Sorry,’ as part of the video series she choreographed for his latest album ‘Purpose.’

They filmed the video at the last minute over a couple of days in Auckland, randomly chucking on clothes Parris brought to the shoot. ‘Sorry’ has become the most viewed music video of 2015, with almost 850 million views on YouTube. That eclipses ‘Royals’ by Lorde. As core Palace dancer Kaea Pearce said to Maori TV, “it’s just buzzy seeing it get so many views.” Hard.

Choreographer: Parris Goebel
Dancers: The Ladies of ReQuest Dance Crew (don’t have all their names – sorry!)

Oh man they are just the best!! I’m all brimming over with pride and excitement for their awesomeness and hard work. Shot guys.

To grace this Royal Family worship piece with tangential relevance to the themes of this blog, I want to give a massive shout out to Giverny Hing, a Year 10 dancer from Auckland who absolutely KILLS it in this video:

And this one (my all time favourite):

And this one!

It goes without saying that ReQuest dancers are selected on talent and commitment, not race. And I don’t want to turn this into an analysis of ethnic representation in the media yada yada, because the Palace doesn’t exist to create a sense of ‘ethnic diversity’ *shudders,* they exist to do and share what they love, and they are bloody good at it. In the same token, the fact most of them are Polynesian and Maori should not be overlooked – as it’s their power, expressiveness and confident sense of identity that is key to making everything they do so amazing.

Giverny Hing reps it hard for all us Asians in Aotearoa who wish we were cool enough to Polyswagg. She is so fierce. The bit where she flashes her grills in the 711 video and rips into that dance routine gives me strength. And as the lead in the Children video, she reps it for Asians worldwide. The bit where she power stances that forest field and everyone runs into formation behind her?? That opening panning shot of the dancers is like, the most accurate representation of Aotearoa multi-culture since… ever? Also, this.

Giverny must be like 14? I am so excited for her, she’s got a huge future ahead of her and I can’t wait to see more. Big ups, girl!

Big ups Parris, big ups Royal Fam, big ups to all the dancers, choreographers, stylists and camera crew that have put New Zealand on the map for something other than rugby and Lord of the Rings. Much aroha, I salute you. Crowns UP!


Do you have a favourite video? Comment below! I have a lot of time to discuss this crew. Seriously.

Read more about The Palace Dance Studio here!

Header image from Maori TV.