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Championship dancers... Heading to the New Zealand Open Dance Championships in Gore this month are (from left) Ben Heaps and his partner Kiera Ferguson, and Heidi Potter and her partner Neihana Wilson, from Rachel's Dance Studio in Gore. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE 

The friendly rivalry between two couples from Rachel’s Dance Studio will be put on hold when they compete at the New Zealand Open Dance Championships in Hamilton this month.

Partners Kiera Ferguson (14) and Ben Heaps (15) competed against Heidi Potter (13) and partner Neihana Wilson (15) at the championships last year.

The couples competed against each other in junior division level 1 Latin style dance – and Kiera and Ben beat Heidi and Neihana.

Heidi said it had been a healthy rivalry between the pairs and she hoped to go one better this year.

“We want to go one better because we’re in different categories from each other this time around – we want to come first,” Heidi said.

Heidi and Neihana would compete in Latin, ballroom and new vogue styles at level 1 this year.

They placed third in new vogue last time, Neihana said.

The pair were excited to be heading away together again.

“It’s just such a big rush and the vibe out there of everyone around and meeting new people is amazing,” Heidi said.

Kiera and Ben would compete in level 2 Latin and level 1 new vogue and ballroom styles.

Kiera said the pair were looking to go up a grade in both new vogue and ballroom at this competition.

“The fields have grown a lot this time around. There are more people competing and attending the competitions,” she said.

Both Kiera and Ben were looking forward to competing together again.

They were paired together after Ben won a school competition for a scholarship to dance at the studio.

He credits dance with helping him grow as a person.

“It’s really helped me come out of my shell a lot, I was pretty antisocial beforehand,” he said.

Ben said he had grown a great friendship with Kiera through dance.

“We’ve become really good friends alongside dancing.”

The two couples spent more than 15 hours a week training with dance teacher Rachel Ferguson.

Kiera said Ms Ferguson was a vital part of the dancing family at the studio.

“She is the dance mum, she really pushes us in different ways with our movements beyond our comfort zones. It’s great.” Kiera said.

The New Zealand Open Dance Championships will take place on October 20 and 21.