After a one-year hiatus due to Covid-19, Harcourts Dancing for Hospice returns on August 7. All 20 dancers have been announced and the Rotorua Daily Post is profiling each pair to see what motivated them to take part and how their preparations are going.
From total strangers to standing face-to-face and learning to dance, this year's Harcourts Dancing for Hospice couples are halfway through an experience like no other.
And the nerves are starting to creep in.
The couples are halfway through 12 weeks of learning a dance which will be performed on stage in front of thousands.
Tompkins Wake litigation lawyer Shannon Eldridge, paired with Futureproof Concepts accountant and business coach Miriam Hewson, said he felt some anxiety about the performance but was enjoying the experience so far.
"The pressure of it coming up makes you a little bit more anxious about getting it right and making sure you don't look foolish on the stage," he said.
"It's still a lot of fun and I'm still happy with what we're doing and who I'm with. Getting the steps down is relatively easy, it's a sequence and you need to learn it, but doing it properly, having the correct posture and attitude, is the more challenging part."
Hewson said initially, the steps came fairly easily but there were plenty of challenges such as getting past "the initial thing of 'I have to touch someone else' and being in someone else's space'.
"... but that felt quite comfortable fairly quickly," she said.
"Now it's getting to the point that it gets quite technical. The tutors are quite hard on us but only because they see the potential, which is awesome."
Hewson said she looked forward to dancing each week.
"I think because there are so many other pressures, we both have really demanding jobs, coming to dancing, for me, is sort of a balance. I love what we do and we vibe off each other. I think I can tell when Shannon has had a bad day and vice versa, we just sort of pick each other up and don't take each other too seriously."
The pair agreed that it was not hard to find motivation when dancing for a "fantastic cause".
"It's a competition second," Eldridge said.
"It was a no-brainer [to take part]. We're having great fun and raising a lot of money."
Hewson said not only did she not want to let her dance partner down but she also wanted to do well for the tutors, who put a lot of time into the event and most importantly of all for the hospice.
"That's ultimately what matters and why we said 'yes' to this. It's important to remember why we're doing it."
The 2021 Harcourts Dancing for Hospice couples
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