After a one-year hiatus due to Covid-19, Harcourts Dancing for Hospice returns on August 7. With all 20 dancers officially announced, the Rotorua Daily Post is profiling each pair to see what motivated them to take part and how their preparations are going.
Dancing is not unlike running. Building stamina or learning a routine takes time and both are a matter of putting one foot after the other.
Marathon runners Debbie Holmes and Jonathan Hagger are well-versed at putting one foot in front of the other. But dancing is a new challenge they are tackling together.
The pair are one of 20 couples competing in Harcourts Dancing for Hospice in August. It is Rotorua Hospice's biggest annual fundraiser and sees amateur dancers paired and taught a dance to perform at a one-night showcase.
Holmes, Kaitao Intermediate's deputy principal, said she agreed to dance because she loved the work Hospice did.
"My aunty's husband passed away about 15 years ago. My aunty had some pretty difficult disabilities so it wasn't just the help Hospice gave Brett when he was unwell, it was also the care and empathy they had for Colleen at the time ... They made it so much easier for them."
She said dancing was out of her comfort zone.
"I put kids out of their comfort zones every day and it's only fair I do the same."
Both Holmes and Hagger have participated in marathons and ultra-marathons and are carrying over the mindset from training to their dance lessons.
"You know this is a long-term thing. When you're training to do 102km it's not going to happen now. It's one foot after the other," Holmes said.
"Dancing is kind of the same, it's just you have to figure out which foot you're using and it has to be in sync with someone else.
"We have that understanding of training and recovery and where both of those have their place."
Hagger, who is chief executive of Hospice Rotorua, said the patients who came through the hospice's doors were his motivation.
"I'm doing dancing this year to help promote the work that we do and, similar to Debbie, be pushed way outside of my comfort zone.
"For me, we have a lot of patients come through the door but every now and then there's one or two we get to know a little bit better. There's a couple of patients we have at the moment who are really the driver, the inspiration," he said.
"They would give their absolute all and do anything to have this opportunity."
The dance Hagger and Holmes are learning will remain a secret until the night but the pair are hard at work practising, all while juggling other commitments.
"You can have a whole lot of commitments ... and most people would think 'how are you going to fit dancing in on top of that', but you just do," Holmes said.
"If you really want to do something, especially if you're helping other people out, then that's what's important."
But Hagger said it was not all hard work.
"You've got to have a laugh too.
"Our philosophy is it's got to be fun."
Tickets for Harcourts Dancing for Hospice go on sale in mid-June, and all updates will be posted on the Harcourts Dancing for Hospice Facebook page.
The 2021 Harcourts Dancing for Hospice couples
Couple 1: Bernie Dawson and Danielle Maguire
Couple 2: Kraig Steiner and Melanie Short
Couple 3: Jonathon Hagger and Debbie Holmes
Couple 4: Tracy Leeke and Shane O'Driscoll
Couple 5: Julie Manktelow and Bryan Graham
Couple 6: Kaitlin Hyde and Liam Rehu
Couple 7: Lexie Stewart and Fisher Wang
Couple 8: Shannon Eldridge and Miriam Hewson
Couple 9: Nadine Katene and Logan Nathan
Couple 10: Peter Kingi and Tamsyn Peterson