One of Rotorua's major annual fundraising events is back and the first person due to take to the stage in five months' time has been revealed.
Harcourts Dancing for Hospice sees 20 Rotorua people with little or no dance experience paired up, given professional dance training and asked to perform at an evening fundraiser.
Four celebrity judges score each couple to determine an overall winner.
After a year's hiatus due to Covid-19, the event is back this year for the fifth time.
The Rotorua Daily Post can now reveal the first person to put their name in the hat for the show is Melanie Short, Sport Bay of Plenty's communications and operations manager. She has worked for the organisation for almost a decade.
"I love my job because I love our kaupapa. Our job is to help people get active and people get active in many different ways.
"We know how important physical activity is to our health and wellbeing."
This kaupapa was one of the reasons Short agreed to dance but she also has a personal affiliation with Hospice.
"My father-in-law passed away 18 months ago in Manawatū. He was under Hospice care and the family couldn't speak highly enough of the care Hospice provided and allowed Tony to pass with dignity."
Short said while training for the fundraiser was a big commitment it would be an amazing opportunity and achievable with family support.
"Hospice is a wonderful charity ... I'm all about trying something new," she said.
"For me, this year is about taking on new adventures and just saying yes.
"I'm looking forward to being part of this, meeting new people, doing something I don't know I can do: I don't know if I can dance.
"My husband flings me around the dance floor at weddings and things but we've been doing the same four moves for the last 25 years."
Short said she knew dancers from previous years and all of them had said it was an amazing experience.
"Hospice in this community has a strong presence.
"It's really important to live life to the full and try new things even though I'm nervous it's that old saying; 'Feel the fear and do it anyway'."
Rotorua Community Hospice needs to raise $1 million each year to operate and is aiming to raise more than $100,000 through this year's event, fundraising and marketing manager Jessica Meade said.
They are still looking for a couple of male dancers, ideally in their 30s.
Meade previously said it was disappointing to cancel last year's event, so they were thrilled to be back in 2021.
The remaining dance couples will be announced in early May and tickets will be on sale at the end of June.
The event is on August 7 at the Rotorua Energy Events Centre.
Follow Harcourts Dancing for Hospice on Facebook: www.facebook.com/HarcourtsDancingforHospice or check out www.rotoruahospice.co.nz for all the latest updates.