"Amjazz Dancers – this is your four-minute call!"
My nerves are real. Even though I have been to the bathroom in the past hour, I instantly need to go again. There's no time though - I'm wearing seven layers of costuming! We call out our final "good luck" to this year's contestants as we pass by their dressing room and make our way downstairs.
I'm excited, nervous, my chest is pumping and my stomach is churning. Why am I so nervous? I've been performing on stage at semi-professional dancing gigs for years. However, Dancing for Hospice feels different. It's more special.
The kaupapa behind this phenomenal Rotorua fundraiser enables our hospice to provide free care to our local families who need it the most. Therefore, it is an absolute honour and privilege to be able to be involved and have the opportunity to dance. It almost seems like half of the entire Rotorua community will be there!
As we saunter down the runway on to the main stage, it's an out-of-body experience - seeing people you know in the audience and those few final seconds are spent composing oneself for the choreography that is about to begin.
Throughout our thoroughly-rehearsed routine there is little time to think.
We trust our bodies to know the movements we have performed over and over in rehearsal.
Since March we have been looking forward to being ready for this moment in August that at one point seemed so far away.
It is a special feeling to dance in front of a capacity crowd of 2100 people. One we are truly grateful for.
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Unpaid performances often mean the most, because we have chosen to give up our time for something we believe is an amazing cause.
The glitz and glam of the seated tables juxtaposed against the basketball seating of the two grandstands are lit up by stage lights and a giant mirror ball.
Sponsors and guests enjoy dressing up to the nines for one of the few social events in Rotorua that brings together people from all walks of life ready and willing to support their chosen loved one.
The number of hours put in from everyone who is involved is simply and utterly mind-blowing.
From the event organisers and choreographers who have worked tirelessly to get the show off the ground, to the venue staff, caterers, photographers, lighting and sound team, talented music entertainer, MCs, wait staff, theatre staff, callers, pyrotechnics, just to name a few!
Every single contestant juggles their new-found commitment around their own work, lives and family to be able to pull off a professional standard routine in just 15 short weeks.
Imagine going from absolutely no dance experience to show-ready in such a small turnaround.
This year's wonderful group of talented individuals are well known for what they work hard to do in our community.
Each one of them thrown together in pairs and as a group with only one simple commonality – learning to dance and then perform in front of a massive live audience.
The pairings seemed to work extremely well with each couple slowly being introduced to the public throughout their 15-week training regime. Themes were kept under wraps for as long as possible so the surprise on the night would be news to all.
The judges provided feedback that was easy to understand, accurate and supportive, knowing full well just what these contestants had given up to take on this crazy journey.
Judges' scores were totalled to give two of the 10 couples the chance to dance off for first place.
The audience saw contrasting dance styles competing against each other, which was a hard concept to grasp for this group of Rotorua locals who have bonded as the 2019 Dancing for Hospice family.
I picked the overall winners of the night at the dress rehearsal the night before.
Kereti Rautangata and Kristina Crouch's Paso Doble was the whole package.
A seamless performance with projection of facial expression, energy, dynamics and choreography that was challenging and captivating for all watching.
People's Choice couple Rawiri Bhana and Polly Delfim provided a contrasting elegance and graceful delight of two people waltzing together for the first time.
The remaining eight couples were outstanding in their own right. A medley of dance styles learnt and performed for the first time by amateurs who really lifted the bar at this year's event. Contestant smiles lit up the stage as each couple dazzled the huge appreciative audience.
It is a journey shared fiercely by all contestants and their dance partners.
Whānau support from families who selflessly share their precious loved ones' time for three months and who are not privy to the inside jokes, the new friends and the time spent away from everyday life.
For this, Rotorua Hospice is lucky and there is no better feeling than helping to raise money for such a worthwhile cause.