Premier of Dance Academy: The Movie on 6. April 2017
I can’t wait to watch this movie – though being over 20, I probably shouldn’t be this passionate for an Australian teen drama about love, relationships and careers. But there are two understandable reasons: I love Sydney, so I enjoy the setting and scenery of Walsh Bay, Harbour Bridge and the beaches. Secondly, I adore the dance scenes which feature all the highlights of classical ballet and comtemporary dance.
The movie gives a great insight into the daily life of a Dance Academy, where the students are trained to become a professional dancer.
Watch this movie trailer:
Read these articles to get more information:
Dance Academy: it’s time to rediscover this lovable, refreshing TV show for teens by Cassie Tongue
As the spin-off movie hits cinemas, we celebrate the series about ballet dancers coming of age that was really about showing compassion for misfits
Dance Academy follows country girl Tara (Xenia Goodwin) from the farm to the big city. Photograph: StudioCanal
Monday 3 April 2017 16.17 AEST Last modified on Monday 3 April 2017 16.22 AEST
Dance Academy was the show with biggest heart on Australian TV – and if you missed it, you missed out. This local drama about young dancers and dreamers is celebrating the release of a send-off film in cinemas this week, making it the perfect time to revisit one of Australia’s most earnest slices of entertainment.
The ABC series aimed at teens ran from 2010 to 2013 and was set in the fictional National Academy of Dance – shot almost entirely in Sydney’s Walsh Bay, exalting in harbour views. The story follows country girl Tara (Xenia Goodwin) from the farm to the academy. She’s bursting with raw talent but not much in the way of training. The series charts her evolution as a dancer and as a young adult, trained by tough-love teacher Miss Raine (Tara Morice), distracted by boys, and finding a new family in her academy friends – dancers from all walks of life.
It’s an easy TV series to watch, employing dance-flick tropes from the likes of Fame, Flashdance and Step Up, including untrained ballet dancers impressing with their passion and hip-hop dancers from the wrong side of the tracks. The show never met a cliche it didn’t love (something the film acknowledges and lightly lampoons in a winning opening sequence). But its characters are also believable teenagers. Charming, awkward and headstrong, they make short-sighted decisions while trying to be better dancers and people. And they love each other, either platonically or romantically, with the fierceness of young hearts.
Nowhere is that clearer than in the series’ caring, refreshing take on young Australian queerness. The show tackles the issue via Sammy Lieberman (Thom Green), a teen from a wealthy, conservative Jewish family who disapprove of his dancing. Late in the first season, when Sammy develops feelings for another boy at the academy around the time he breaks up with a female dancer, he is in a panic. “It’s not that what I had with Abigail was nothing,” Sammy agonises to his friend Kat (Alicia Banit). “That was real.”
The show never met a cliche it didn’t love. Photograph: StudioCanal
Kat, the academy’s wild child and free spirit, responds to Sammy’s revelations with heartening understanding. “Yeah, of course,” she says. She encourages Sammy to focus on his feelings for Christian rather than try to label himself. With that perspective, Sammy is able to explore his feelings with more ease, and his character, as well as his later romances, evolve in more complex and realistic ways as a result.
Kat’s response to Sammy’s confession is not just a relief given how much we, as viewers, want good things for our favourite characters; it’s also gently instructive to the show’s target audience. I can’t imagine a warmer reaction to the fumblings of early comings-out. Having a Sammy to relate to, a Kat to emulate, is a great gift for young people just starting to have these conversations with their friends.
Tara might be the series lead, but Sammy is the soul of the show, even as the plot takes dramatic measures with his character. His love for his friends drives many of the plot points in the film – in many ways, he embodies the values the show stands for.
Dance Academy is about care and compassion for misfits. Just as Buffy the Vampire Slayer turned the pressures of growing up into actual monsters, Dance Academy dramatises the pain and pleasure of growing up by aligning it with the relentless, and ultimately futile, pursuit of perfection in ballet. By throwing these misfits into the heightened world of an elite academy for young dancers, teen audiences – and adults who might need a reminder of some human truths – can see that difference is a good thing. That no single path is right for everyone and success can have many definitions.
Dance Academy is really about care and compassion for misfits. Photograph: StudioCanal
The characters are three-dimensional and lovable, from perpetually cheery Ben (Thomas Lacey) to Type-A Abigail (Dena Kaplan) and guarded Christian (Jordan Rodrigues). And each misfit is granted the same respect on their individual paths.
This remains true for the film as it follows the gang in their post-academy, newly adult lives, scattered from Texas to New York to Sydney and beyond, and with divergent relationships to dance. What does it mean, the film asks, to exist in a punishing industry with impossibly high standards? What does it mean to pursue a meaningful life when you’re old enough to know perfection is a fallacy? And is life navigable without your chosen family, the ones who understand, challenge and cherish you?
Each character, an example of human complexity and individuality, is given consideration and time. It’s like catching up with old friends – the ones who helped you through some hard times, and reminded you that you are your own version of perfect. That might sound cheesy, but it’s also why you should make friends with the teenagers of Dance Academy. Don’t we all need a little corny escapism in our lives? Don’t we need a reminder that wherever we are in life, we’ll be OK?
Just make sure you watch the series before seeing the film (the first two seasons are currently streaming on Stan). This a movie that can’t be separated from the journey that came before, so don’t jump in at the end. Start at the beginning. Take the scenic route.
• Dance Academy is showing in cinemas around Australia from 6 April 2017
Dance Academy graduates hit the big screen
by Danielle Mcgrane•7:04PM March 30, 2017 in The Weekend Australian
Australian Emmy-nominated television series Dance Academy has made the leap to the big screen.
The movie version follows the original actors from the TV series including Keiynan Lonsdale, who has gone on to act in the Divergent movies series; Xenia Goodwin who has returned to play Tara; and Dena Kaplan, who is also back to reprise her role as the competitive dancer Abigail.
The TV show ran for three seasons before ending in 2013. The film picks up 18 months after the series finale where the teenagers have moved on from the academy and are out in the real world.
The show gained a strong cult following and despite a three-year hiatus, Kaplan says she still gets emails and tweets from fans all over the world who are just discovering the show, which now streams on Netflix and Hulu.
“By the third series when everybody was invested in the characters and it finished, there was just heartbreak. So when the film came about, our existing fan base lost its mind,” Kaplan told AAP.
The fans were excited but so were the TV show’s original stars who had spent those three years away from each other.
“We were all living in different countries and cities and working on various different projects. I was based in Cape Town at the time working on another film, everyone was doing very different things and then all of a sudden we got this email about the movie, and we just said ‘yes, of course’,” Kaplan said.
There was just one problem: Kaplan hadn’t actually danced since the TV show ended and in the film Abigail has become a soloist with a professional ballet company.
“I had six weeks to get back into shape and I injured myself within the first two weeks because I just hadn’t danced in so long. I was shooting the film with torn ligaments but it was kind of amazing because it’s like the reality of it, you can’t all of a sudden be a ballerina,” she said.
In the film, Kaplan performs in some seriously hard dance routines with the Melbourne Ballet Company and there are no body doubles. But it was all worth it when the film had its recent Australian premiere.
“It was kind of mind-blowing, we have the best fans in the world, to hear their reactions in the cinema was so cool. There was laughter and tears, everything kind of hit the mark,” she said.
* Dance Academy is screening in Australian cinemas now