Creative directed by Parris Goebel, the dance performance offered a victorious portrait of womanhood

“Stay focused. I’m right here behind you. You’re strong. You’re worthy. Remember who you are. Just do it.”

The Nike Women Goddess Awakened show—creative directed by Parris Goebel, who you may know as the choreographer behind Rihanna’s Super Bowl halftime performance and Justin Bieber’s “Yummy” video—began with those encouraging lines at Accor Arena during Couture Week. The spectacle may have been an anomaly on the schedule, but next to Balenciaga’s 3D-printed, Joan of Arc-inspired gown, and Dior’s tribute to “all the divinities who have ruled and still rule the world,” it was completely in line with the week’s theme of powerful women.

The dance performance served as a reminder to women everywhere to channel the little girl from their past, and to remember her hopes and dreams—and that despite the challenges females face, they have everything they need to reach exactly what the goddess Nike stands for: victory.

There’s no question about it—women have it harder than men. Look at the statistics: According to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey, “Women are roughly four times as likely as men to say they were not competent because of their gender.” The organization also found that, in 2022, American women earned 82 cents for every dollar earned by men. They’re disproportionately affected when it comes to mental health—for instance, depression is also more common among those who’ve given birth. When it comes to anxiety, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America reported that women are twice as likely as males to be diagnosed.

Nike Women is addressing the disproportionate and myriad issues that females face through the Nike Well Collective and its five pillars of holistic fitness: movement, mindfulness, nutrition, rest, and connection. The brand conducted extensive research before defining this initiative: “We looked at the themes that came out the most, whether it was feeling confident doing sport and movement on their period, mental health and anxiety, the rise of diabetes—and that can be helped through nutrition, but [also] through getting people moving,” said Liz Weldon, Vice President of Women’s Brand Management at Nike. “I would say we tackled the broadest, biggest statistics that we saw first, just through listening and gathering insights. Then we started to prioritize, because we feel like we’re at the beginning of the journey. There’s a lot more to come.”

The 40-minute Goddess Awakened show served as a platform for women to harness their strength through movement. It began with a synchronized routine in tactical-inspired performance vests and Dri-FIT leggings on a row of white treadmills, leaving the audience energized and mesmerized.

The following act unveiled a colorful Nike x AMBUSH coat by Yoon Ahn, composed of soccer scarves stitched together. It was paired with red cut-out leggings, as Billie Eilish’s voice recited the lines, “Her style outshines your opinion. Her confidence outwits your stereotypes. He curves cut through your demeaning words.” Explained Ahn, “We saw everything as one body—celebrating womanhood like it’s different players, coming together and becoming one.”

Nike Athletes took the stage, including India Sardjoe—a Dutch breakdancer who qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics, the first time it will be considered an official sport in the games—who bodyrocked in yellow parachute pants and a windbreaker. Scout Bassett, a Chinese-American paralympic track and field champion, who lost her leg in a fire when she was young, defiantly ran across the stage. Both wore Jacquemus J Force 1s. Cleo Sol’s “Know That You Are Loved” played during a modern segment, featuring lime green and gray leggings and sports tops by London-based menswear designer Feng Chen Wang.

The performance featured an inclusive cast of dancers, representing a diverse range of shapes, sizes, and ethnicities; dance style spanned from Polynesian to modern, hip-hop to voguing, as well as Goebel’s signature Polyswagg method, celebrating female inner strength. “As women—in terms of having to fit a certain paradigm on what we need to look like—having clothes that fit lessens anxiety and stress, and allows you to be the best version of yourself,” said Tania Flynn, Vice President of Apparel Design.

“Throughout history, women have been told how to act, what to say, how to feel. Tonight is about breaking those binds and letting our voices be heard, our bodies be acknowledged, and our wings take flight, together,” said Goebel. “To me, there is no better way to express the love, grief, power, and femininity of this moment than through dance, and I’m grateful for Nike’s partnership in giving me the stage, literally and figuratively, to do it.”

Goddess Awakened was a strong message on what’s to come at Nike Women—and the night ended in victory, leaving the audience feeling like they’d unleashed their inner goddess: empowered, inspired, and energized.