A group of pole dancing students from Whanganui were "freaking out" on Saturday as they waited their turn to perform in their first pole competition.
This week, Pole Dance Wanganui student Kirsten Monteba said she was still "coming down off the high" of performing for the first time, but on the day it was a different story.
"I was so nervous," she said. "I was, like, freaking out."
Miss Monteba said she considered it a "huge personal accomplishment" to compete in the NZ Amateur Pole Performer competition in Wellington last weekend, after a traumatic brain injury seven years ago left her temporarily paralysed and suffering from anxiety.
She spent two weeks paralysed on her right side after being assaulted.
Under the supervision of pole dance teacher Emma Dewhurst, Miss Monteba has used pole dance as a form of recovery. It has helped rebuild strength in her weak side and has helped with her anxiety.
"A lot of other sports I couldn't do because they're too cardio-intense."
Miss Monteba was one of a handful of Pole Dance Wanganui students who gave the competition a go.
She said it was "really cool" to perform alongside Mrs Dewhurst, who was the judge's wildcard pick and will go on to perform in the national competition in Christchurch.
"You get a real thrill from being on stage," Miss Monteba said.
The atmosphere at the competition was "supportive".
Classmate Jess Jones was on the verge of tears as she waited to perform.
"I was so scared to the point where I almost had tears," Miss Jones said. "I couldn't look at any of the other girls from my team. Once I was standing up there it was all good."
Miss Jones danced to Girls Just Want To Have Fun.
"Part of me actually thinks that song is me. That's what I told my parents: I just want to have fun."
Meanwhile Lucy Brickley was fighting the flu to perform, but she said not performing was never an option.
"I think it went really well considering, I guess, I've got the flu and I'm on antibiotics," she said. "I'd put so much, literally blood, sweat and tears into doing this, there was no way I was going to [miss it]."
Miss Brickley said her routine was "quite smooth and sort of flowy".
Mrs Dewhurst's routine was a high energy "space princess-themed" performance.
"I got the wildcard, it's like the judge's choice," she said.
She also got the wildcard in 2013, and was beaten in her category then by the same woman who won her category this year.
Mrs Dewhurst said she was "so proud" to see her students perform, although she spent the first half of the competition "really, really nervous for all the girls" and the second half being nervous for her own routine.
"As soon as they were done, I just sat backstage and freaked out for the rest of the night," she said. "They would take turns coming back and looking after me."