One young dancer has his eyes fixed firmly on the future as he competes in one of New Zealand's premier youth performing arts contests.
John Tetley-Jones, from the Lower Kaimais, is one of 600 competitors at the annual Tauranga Festival of Performing Arts at Baycourt. He said he wanted to make his passion his career. "I want to become a professional dancer," he said, before adding that dancing and being on stage felt natural and made him happy.
The Bay of Plenty Times spoke to the youngster moments after he performed his routine in the Speed Tap 11 and Under 13 class. "It didn't go as well as I'd planned," he said. "I missed a couple of steps and the judge wasn't smiling."
His mum, Janice Tetley-Jones, said she felt the routine had gone well and the reaction was typical as John set himself high standards.
The Year 8 Bethlehem College student will get the chance to impress again this week when he competes in the jazz and hip-hop competitions. He already had one festival success in the bag, taking out the Open section of the Restricted Slow Tap class.
John has the commitment to make it to the top, having been a student at Tauranga's Dance Avenue for six years. He attends five days a week, for three hours at a time, and participates in jazz, hip-hop, contemporary, acro (acrobatics) and ballet.
"It's great to see how he's improving all the time," Mrs Tetley-Jones said. "He's just so passionate about it and so happy when he's dancing. The rest of the time is really just filling in between when he gets to dance."
This is the Tauranga Festival of Performing Arts' 56th year. It sees youngsters compete in eight art forms: singing, speech, piano, instrumental, ballet, tap, modern dance and highland national dance. Each art form runs a major award scholarship class, featuring senior competitors performing challenging programmes consisting of three items.
The competitors' ages range from pre-school to university and performers come from across the nation, including Auckland and Wellington.
The festival started on Saturday and concludes with the festival concert at Baycourt next Sunday from 3pm.