An online video and a camera audition got Parris Goebel where she is today, writes Leena Tailor.
In the age of social media and YouTube, the world of dance is increasingly being shaped by underground innovators, often youngsters pushing creative boundaries while dancing purely for fun.
"Those underground movements are just as interesting as what the people at Cirque du Soleil are coming up with - if not more interesting," says dance guru and Step Up 5: All In producer Adam Shankman.
"It's texturally more cultural and emotional underneath, so new movements are born and we see great things."
It's only fitting then, that when it came time to find a dance trailblazer who could help inject fresh pizzazz into the fifth instalment of the hugely successful Step Up franchise, director Trish Sie turned to the internet - and found 22-year-old Kiwi Parris Goebel.
"It's great now with Vine, Twitter, YouTube - somebody makes something cool in the far corner of the world and it's suddenly there to be seen," says Sie. "Chris Scott, one of our choreographers, sent me her video and we were considering hiring her as an associate choreographer because she had such an incredible, unique style.
"I loved her dancing, but as I watched her she had such a presence and fantastic charisma that I was like, 'We shouldn't just hire her as a choreographer - she should be Violet!'"
Working in Las Vegas on Cirque's Michael Jackson ONE show at the time, Goebel auditioned for Sie via camera from the lobby of the Desert Rose Hotel, winning the part of New Zealand exchange student Violet.
Although she had not been pursuing film roles, the Aucklander grew up in Manurewa dreaming of acting, until dance took over her life at 13, sparking a career that has seen her launching her own studio, working alongside "just so normal" Jennifer Lopez and being named Young New Zealander of the Year.
With just one acting lesson before kicking off filming in Vancouver, Goebel felt confident her performance background and similarities with Violet - "sassy, confident and tough" - would help her through her first movie gig.
"She's a natural," praises Sie.
"I figured she could pull it off because in her dance videos she inhabits these characters and goes for it. She's not just getting out there and dancing in her sweatpants."
As well as playing Violet, Goebel helped choreograph two of the film's dance sequences, in a science lab and boxing ring.
"It was a challenge for me to learn her choreography," admits co-star Briana Evigan, who plays Andie. "But she would watch me struggle and go out of her way to help me.
"She has a very aggressive type of dance, which was cool because with all of us combining our styles - her strength and Mari [Koda] and I softening it up - we balanced each other out and it turned out really hot."
The film brings back previous Step Up favourites Evigan and Ryan Guzman (Pretty Little Liars) as they band together - including Violet - to compete for a three-year casino dance contract in Las Vegas.
With the group battling money issues, tested friendships and physical feats, Sie and Shankman can vouch for the "brutalness" of pursing a career in dance.
Shankman - a film/TV director and judge/choreographer on So You Think You Can Dance - admits he has often put himself in danger and has clocked up seven knee surgeries.
"You hurt yourself, blow things out, break your teeth," says Sie. "It's such a brutal, crazy, self-punishing thing to do with your life that if you don't have blissful fun at least some of the time, there's no point."
"That's so true," adds Goebel. "We punish our bodies as much as athletes do, if not more because we use every single muscle. It's crazy, tiring and you're always sore, but the reward is that you create something great and it's worth it. It's an opportunity to express yourself, be confident and leave all your insecurities behind.
"I am where I am today because I love it and when you love something you want to do good at it everyday. It's never been about a pay cheque - that's why my dad handles my money. As long as I love the job I'll do it ... the money's a bonus."
That fulfilment spurs dancers to pursue their craft at all costs, but Sie believes it's the universality of dance that continued to make a success of films from Dirty Dancing to Step Up, and shows like Dancing with the Stars and SYTYCD. "It sounds cheesy and cliched, but it's this universal language that cultures from the beginning of recorded history have used to express themselves.
"People dance when they're sad, happy, mourning, trying to get rain to come, trying to get rain to stop, going to war, stopping war, in love. That's why these movies do well across the world - dance transcends language and short-circuits so many of the wires in our brain to go straight to the emotional centre."
It's dance where Goebel's focus lies post-Step Up. She hopes to make as big an impact in the dance world as her idols Beyonce, Janet Jackson and Madonna have in music.
And although the film may open up acting doors for Goebel - the first Step Up film made stars of Channing Tatum and now-wife Jenna - the Kiwi has "ticked that box" and confesses to being somewhat deterred by downtime on-set. "It was a dream for me to be in a dance film. It was a cool experience and I learned a lot. But I didn't enjoy the downtown and waiting around.
Step Up 5: All In opens on Thursday.