National | Aotearoa

Karanga mai Dubai! Royal Family to shine at Expo

Five-time world hip-hop champion Parris Gobel has been selected as the artistic director of New Zealand's entertainment and cultural programme at the Expo in Dubai. A crew of 95 members including dancers, spoken word performers and support staff will travel over next year.

Amongst the crew is Psalm Cowley-Davis, who says it’s an opportunity of a lifetime.

“I’m part of the Royal Family’s Varsity team and we’re pretty much all the teenagers. We have quite a few shows lined up. We will be performing at the New Zealand Pavillion and Voice of the Youth showcase. Our performance will be similar to the NZ Tour show but you can expect new compositions for the Voice of Youth show,” Cowley-Davis said.

The ‘Voice of Youth’ show will be an opportunity for singers and dancers between the ages 16-18 to perform, celebrating song, dance and spoken word.

Raised in East Auckland, Cowley-Davis belongs to the people of Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrākei, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Raukawa and Ngāti Hāmoa (Samoan). She is a raukura (student) from the full immersion Māori language school in Glen Innes, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Puau Te Moananui-a-Kiwa.

“My first experience in dance was kapa haka. I performed at primary and high school competitions. I also performed at the senior kapa haka regional competition with my whānau team, Te Puru o Tāmaki.”

At a young age, her passion for dance extended to hip-hop and she joined the Royal Family. Six years on the Royal Family has taken her to the World Hop Hop Championships in Las Vegas where her crew, Bubblegum, won bronze.

“My ultimate dream was to get on one of the national tours. We were supposed to tour Australia last year but because of Covid-19, the trip was cancelled. One day I hope to perform at the music awards or become a backup dancer for Rihanna.”

She's off to a good start because Gobel has worked with the likes of Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lopez, Ariana Grande, Janet Jackson and Nicki Minaj. Her career highlights include choreographing for Justin Bieber the music video Sorry, which is still in the top 20 most viewed videos on Youtube with just over 3.4 billion views, choreographing Jennifer Lopez's halftime Super Bowl performance in 2020, and working with Rihanna on her Savage X Fenty Show promoting her lingerie line, which was featured in an Amazo documentary about the show's making.

The team will depart from Auckland on January 19.

The Royal Family Varsity - Battle in the Bay 2020. 

Bubblegum - New Zealand (Junior - Bronze Medalist) at the 2014 HHI World Finals.