Hesitancy, uncertainty and disruption couldn't stop dancers from Paraparaumu College performing on regional and national stages, coming away with multiple placings and golden tickets.
Performing at the DanceNZmade Manawatū regional competition for primary and secondary schools, the hip-hop and contemporary troupes both placed with the hip-hop troupe Cindy coming first in the open section (Years 9-13) and second runner-up overall while the contemporary troupe Somewhere Only We Know came first in the Year 11-13 section and were overall winners and regional champions.
Captain of the hip-hop troupe, Adienna Sloman, said their performance was all about finding confidence with the performance being a twist on the classic Cinderella.
"We had auditions at the start of the year, put together a big group of 15 dancers and have worked on it throughout the year.
"Lockdown happened which complicated things and pushed out dates as we were just about to perform it the week lockdown hit."
With multiple date changes, the event finally took place last week.
"The music started with a voiceover from one of the arts captains and we came out wearing 1980s prom dresses, bows and ponytails.
"This is a bit different to traditional hip-hop outfits which are normally baseball shirts and shorts so we surprised the audience a bit."
"All the songs had a women power theme, with the performance starting with Cinderella getting bullied by the stepsisters then finding confidence in herself," said Year 10 dancer Anika Kelly.
The piece was choreographed by staff member Catherine Reid and the group came home with first place in the open section and second runner-up overall.
The contemporary troupe performed a piece choreographed by Year 13 student Izzy Purdy.
"I chose the song Somewhere Only We Know, which is an old song.
"Often contemporary pieces are quite sad but I wanted to do something a bit different, something uplifting and hopeful.
"It was powerful."
Year 11 student Tara Snowsill said, "It was so much fun performing at DanceNZmade because we were dancing with people we haven't danced with for ages or have never competed with before.
"The song really brought us together and made us work as a team."
The contemporary group came first in the Year 11-13 section and were overall winners.
"It was a really good feeling winning," Izzy said.
Tara said, "With Covid-19 changing the dates and seniors with exams, there was a lot of hesitancy about doing the competition as we weren't sure it would be worth doing.
"It was nice to know all-out hard work paid off, our results were really good and showed that it was worth doing."
Tara also entered the Wellington regional competition in the solo category, coming first place in the Year 11 solos category along with Kayla Robertson who came first runner-up in the Year 12 solos.
Both went to the national competition, which the groups were unable to make it to due to a tight turnaround between regionals and nationals, with Tara taking out second place, coming first runner-up in the Year 11 age group category for the whole of the country.
"I was not expecting to place," Tara said.
"Dancers from all over New Zealand competed at nationals – everyone was amazing, I was not expecting it."
For the first time, the competition also included golden tickets, a new initiative this year that saw dancers given a chance to be awarded a golden ticket for their performance and efforts at the workshops held during the festival.
From the groups and solo performances which included Anika Kelly and Anna Woodman-Aldridge who competed in the duo category and Adienna Sloman in the solos in Manawatū, 19 dancers from Paraparaumu College received golden tickets.
The ticket gives the dancers a chance to compete for one of 10 $1000 DanceNZmade scholarships later this month.
Despite being rescheduled three times due to Covid-19, extra-curricular arts director Clare Thorley said, "With Covid-19 there were so many changes but the organisers were really positive and made it happen.
"We've always been really well looked after by the hosts, the energy there is great and the competition is getting bigger each year."