Mayor Rachel Reese and Ballroom dance partner Tony Hocking. Photo: Supplied.

Nelson mayor dances for a cause

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Nelson mayor Rachel Reese says running for office was terrifying but nowhere near as bad as dancing in front of the public.

Reese is one of eight local personalities taking part in Dancing For A Cause, a May 26 fundraiser for Nelson Tasman Hospice being staged at the Trafalgar Centre.

Reese and dance partner Tony Hocking will be doing a Viennese waltz – a ballroom style dance with a romantic quality where the partners are constantly turning.

Reese said she last had a dance lesson at age six. “And I was asked to leave because I wasn’t very good at paying attention and I didn’t have any poise.”

Luckily, Hocking has more than 40 years’ experience.

With only a few weeks to go before the competition, the pair are working on containing their moves to within the dimensions of the Trafalgar Centre stage, and on perfecting their final bows to the audience and judges.

Dance teacher Emma Silke-French said Reese’s challenge was to “keep it slow”.

She said Dancing For a Cause had three strong women contestants (Rachel Reese, Rachel Boyack and Ros Pochin) who tended to resist being led by their dance partners.

“You’ve got three very assertive community personalities,” she said. “It’s very hard for them to release the decision-making skills.”

Reese said it was a challenge finding a time for the lessons around her council duties.

“I’m squeezing them in wherever we can find a gap.”

She agreed to participate because hospice touched so many Nelson people’s lives. Still, she said it was “the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done”.

“I always thought standing for election was the most terrifying thing I’ve done but in the scheme of things this is much worse. Of course the challenge of this is infinitesimal compared to the challenge of people going through hospice.

“I’m also counting on the fact it’s going to be a very supportive audience. If I end up in a heap on the floor, we will pretend that’s part of the dance.”

The seven other contestants, each of whom is learning a different dance, are: Victory Boxing coach Paul Hampton, peanut butter business-man Pic Picot, politician Rachel Boyack, surgeon Ros Pochin, restaurateur Matt Bouterey, and councillor Matt Lawrey.

This week is Hospice Awareness Week. Nelson Tasman Hospice cares for about 160 patients with life-limiting illness at any time. Most are cared for in their homes, but the hospice also has 10 inpatient beds. A new facility is being built on Suffolk Rd, Stoke, due for opening in March 2019.

Dancing for a Cause will take place at the Trafalgar Centre on May 26. Tickets are available through TicketDirect or by emailing dancingforacause@dancenelson.com