Dance Academy: The Movie
Xenia Goodwin, Alicia Banit, Dena Caplan, Thomas Lacey, Miranda Otto, Julia Blake
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…Dance Academy fans will already be on board for the feature-length continuing adventures of Tara and company, but newcomers will have a good time, too…
After three seasons on the ABC, the hugely popular Dance Academy makes the leap to the big screen, getting pretty much the whole gang back together for what is either one final hurrah or the first in a new, expanded franchise, depending on how you like at it (and how the numbers look when all is said and done).
Picking up some 18 months after the end of series three, Dance Academy: The Movie sees Tara (Xenia Goodwin) trying to put her life back together following her all-but-career-ending spinal injury. Working as a waitress at the Opera House keeps her on the periphery of the performing world, but she knows she needs to be in the thick of it. After a failed audition for Ballet Company director Madeline Moncur (Miranda Otto), Tara takes to the road to find herself, heading first to New York City to reconnect with Kat (Alicia Banit), now a popular children’s show host, then to Texas to spend time with mentor Lucinda (Tara Morice) and old friend and fellow dancer Ben (Thomas Lacey), who is battling cancer. The pair begin developing their own routines and are determined to showcase their talents in NYC, but an opportunity to rejoin Moncur’s company means Tara must decide once and for what she really wants.
Eschewing the usual “follow your dreams” narrative, Dance Academy makes the astute observation that the dreams of our youth are not necessarily what’s best for us in maturity – the central drama isn’t whether Tara will get back on stage, but whether she really wants to, which lends the proceedings some welcome emotional complexity. This subtext never overwhelms the story, though; on the surface, Dance Academy remains a bright, bubbly and energetic affair. TV veteran director Jeffrey Walker keeps things moving along at a decent clip, and the deft script by series creator Samantha Strauss manages to juggle a large cast effectively.
It’s still essentially a teen drama, mind you, and your mileage will of course be affected by how much import you place on the travails of the young, attractive and insanely talented. Dance Academy is definitely in the upper echelon of the genre though, and if you’re a 40-something with fond memories of, say, Degrassi High, then this will certainly push a lot of the same buttons. Dance Academy fans will already be on board for the feature-length continuing adventures of Tara and company, but newcomers will have a good time, too.