After all the nerves, excitement, and relief, Rotorua's Harcourts Dancing for Hospice participants now wear wistful smiles after a rollercoaster 15 weeks. About 2100 people donned their sequins and bow ties for Saturday's spectacle at the Energy Events Centre. The event was held for its fourth consecutive year. Samantha Olley was there.
Of the 10 performances, it was Kristina Crouch and Kereti Rautangata's fast-paced Spanish paso doble that took home the disco ball trophy in the 2019 Harcourts Dancing for Hospice.
The pair faced off with Polly Delfim and Rawiri Bhana when they were asked to dance a second time, for a winner to be declared.
However Delfim and Bhana were not left empty-handed - they won the People's Choice Award.
The goal of the evening was to raise funds to enable Hospice to care for and support more than 420 Rotorua patients with a terminal illness each year.
Hospice fundraising and marketing manager Nicola Smallwood said the precise fundraising figure would not be clear until the middle of this week, but this year was the first time the event had completely sold out.
We're very proud of our reporter Zizi Sparks carving it up on the stage for Harcourts Dancing for Hospice 💃Posted by Rotorua Daily Post on Saturday, 10 August 2019
1600 spectators were seated and a further 500 had general admission tickets.
"The benefit is massive. We have to fundraise just under $1 million every year to keep the services free. So the money goes directly towards that," Smallwood said.
Early last week she told the Rotorua Daily Post she hoped the event would raise $150,000.
Rautangata has mixed emotions taking off his dancing shoes.
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"It grew my horizons, I come from predominantly a Māori community and this brought together lots of different communities of people. We all built real relationships, the group of us. Now we want to make sure we are still going to see each other often."
Our very own Kelly Makiha is warming up the crowd at Harcourts Dancing for Hospice.Posted by Rotorua Daily Post on Friday, 9 August 2019
He said it was hard going from a dancing family to a dance-off on Saturday night.
"It was never about the competition for me, it was about the Hospice ... My family was really quiet through the night but when the results came out my wife and daughter were jumping up and down."
Meanwhile, Delfim was still "buzzing" and had not yet been able to sleep when she spoke to the Rotorua Daily Post at midday yesterday.
She described the experience as "epic".
"It was also the hardest thing I've ever done, but I have no regrets."
Delfim said she was calm backstage, but as soon as she walked on and the music started, her knees began to shake.
She is Te Puke-based but worked in Rotorua when she was first asked to participate.
"There were some very long days. In the past 15 weeks, I also turned 40, moved house and started a new job. It's been crazy."
During that time, her mother has been visiting from Brazil but leaves tomorrow.
"I was told she was so proud watching me, she was crying."
The night was opened with a group performance from all of the dancing couples alongside the Amjazz dancing group.
The event was co-hosted by The Hits' Paul Hickey and Rotorua actress, writer, director, producer and Rotorua Lakes Council performing arts director Cian Elyse White.
This year was the first time dinner was served before the dancing.
Smallwood said this was to ensure the half-time break was shorter, and there was more time for mixing and mingling at the start of the evening.
"We would love to hear what people thought of that ... We also really want to thank the community for getting behind this event for another year. From the sponsors to the dancers, instructors, and supporters. They have all been awesome."