Tan­gos, tiaras and tears: Dance stars ready to do bat­tle

Take th­ese bro­ken wings, and learn to fly again...


THE search for danc­ing star­dom is prov­ing a painful ex­pe­ri­ence for the con­tes­tants on the re­born Danc­ing with the Stars.

A visit to the set has re­vealed that a show billed as glitz, glam, twirls and se­quins has al­ready re­ceived its fair share of splats, tears and rolled an­kles even be­fore tonight’s launch.

Suzy Cato says the long hours have taken their toll.

‘‘It has been hard. And, I sleep. Man, I hit the pil­low and bam! I’m out,’’ she says.

But the tough­est part has been miss­ing her hus­band. ‘‘I’ve been with my hus­band for 30-odd years and then sud­denly, ‘ooh, there’s an­other man in my arms’. It’s been not so much con­fronta­tional, but it is some­thing to get used to.’’

Writer Gilda Kirk­patrick, of Real Housewives of Auck­land fame, is also feel­ing the heat. With two chil­dren un­der five at home and a job as well, she hasn’t much time for sleep – or this, danc­ing thing. Her days start pre-dawn, when her youngest de­cides it’s time to wake up, and they end well af­ter 8pm when she fi­nally heads home af­ter a day filled with work and train­ing.

‘‘It’s hard, I’m not com­pet­i­tive but I don’t like los­ing. Imag­ine that, ‘you suck go home’. Oh, that would be so em­bar­rass­ing. My poor kids, think­ing ‘my mum’s a loser!’ she says.

‘‘I’ll prob­a­bly burn my danc­ing shoes af­ter this. But, I’ve made a com­mit­ment so I’m go­ing to do my best to de­liver.’’

The Bach­e­lor star and fit­ness model Naz Khan­jani is ap­par­ently rack­ing up the stu­dio time and is a fron­trun­ner in this dan­ce­pop­u­lar­ity con­test.

Al­though for­mer Short­land Street star Ruakere points out with glee that this show is ‘‘not like Sur­vivor’’, it does re­quire that one star leave with their part­ner each week. Per­haps harsher, though, is that the pub­lic are the judge and jury. It’s a pop­u­lar­ity con­test, meets a bor­der­line am­a­teur dance event. And so, each con­tes­tant must get up to speed, fast, to be able to swing them­selves to a dif­fer­ent beat each week in or­der to keep rel­e­vant.

Their fast work preshow has al­ready lead to some in­juries, as Ruakere notes: ‘‘I’ve had two vis­its to the os­teo, be­cause I’ve done some­thing to my left foot and got a nig­gling right knee.’’

Other, male con­tes­tants, have re­port­edly suf­fered se­vere and sen­si­tive knocks.

Kirk­patrick claims she de­vel­oped some­thing akin to ‘‘ele­phan­ti­a­sis’’.

It’s a bru­tal game. In the days prior to their de­but, Ruakere had a busy sched­ule of ra­dio in­ter­views, re­hearsals and dress fit­tings.

And it’s clear that the game – the search for votes – has al­ready be­gun.

Which makes you won­der, how well will politi­cians Marama Fox and David Sey­mour do? Sey­mour, for one, has only been spot­ted a few times ac­tu­ally prac­tis­ing, but the two of them know at least a few things about votes.

Per­haps, Ruakere says, ‘‘Dark horse Dave’’ will storm to vic­tory. IT is the most del­i­cate of op­er­a­tions, a surgery in minia­ture.

Linda Archer’s pa­tient is a monarch but­ter­fly and it needs a wing trans­plant. With­out the pro­ce­dure it won’t fly and that means it will per­ish.

The tools of the trade are tweez­ers, glue, tal­cum pow­der and a very steady hand. The op­er­a­tion is car­ried out on the din­ing ta­ble of her Levin home.

‘‘To many peo­ple it’s just a but­ter­fly, but to me it’s worth try­ing to save. There’s noth­ing to lose,’’ said Archer, who learned the trans­plant tech­nique off the in­ter­net.

A but­ter­fly’s wings are like hu­man fin­ger­nails: there is no pain when they are cut, she said.

Some­times part of a donor wing can be used to patch a hole or tear, but to­day this wing has to come off. Donor wings came from a dead male but­ter­fly found the day be­fore. The but­ter­fly be­ing op­er­ated on is a fe­male – a tell­tale dot on the wings tells you the gen­der – but as long as Archer can line up the wing-veins, it should work.

Be­fore surgery, Archer feeds the in­sect honey and wa­ter to give it en­ergy. She uses a tooth­pick to un­furl its pro­boscis and dips it in the mix­ture.

‘‘I’m a bit of a sook re­ally, I just think you should help an­i­mals where you can.’’

Held in place by a fork-like tool, the but­ter­fly’s dam­aged wing is cut off, leav­ing a tiny flap on which to glue the new wing. It’s stress­ful work; if the glue sticks to a leg or an­tenna, it’s a sticky end­ing for the in­sect.

‘‘Some­times I do for­get to breathe, it’s very del­i­cate.’’

Tal­cum pow­der is ap­plied to the wing to cover the glue and,

Suzy Cato and Naz Khan­jani are al­ready putting in long hours of prac­tice ahead of tonight’s start of Danc­ing with the Stars.

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