Dance Academy

By David Knox on May 17, 2010 / Filed Under Programming, Reviews 11

When My Place picked up a Logie Award as Most Outstanding Children’s Drama it put the ABC Drama department to shame.

My Place had emerged from the Children’s Television department, upstaging three 2009 (adult) dramas that didn’t even land a nomination: The Cut, Dirt Game and East of Everything S2.

There’s every possibility it could do it again with Dance Academy, it’s newest contribution to the children’s drama landscape.

In truth, this 26 part series is pitched a little higher than your average children’s drama.

Most of the principal characters at the National Academy of Dance are teenagers old enough to be living away from home. This provides a great story engine for an ambitious drama as the kids explore growing up, independence, romance and living in inner Sydney.

Dance Academy is told through the eyes of Tara Webster (newcomer Xenia Goodwin), a farmgirl with dreams of becoming a ballerina.

As the series opens she practising her dance moves, using a rusty farmgate for a ballet bar. Does it get much more Australian than this? When she auditions at NAD she personifies the optimistic country girl swimming amongst the hectic life of a showbiz college. She is surrounded by music, boys, classes, parties, schedules and more boys.

She quickly meets fellow dancer-students played by Alicia Banit, Tim Pocock, Dena Kaplan, Tom Green, Abigail Armstrong and Jordan Rodrigues. All are universally pretty but talented.

Heading up her audition is Miss Raine (Tara Morice) who unsurprisingly doesn’t have any room in her class for the untalented, inattentive and uncommitted. She has terse words for the carefree young Tara. Hopefully this mostly stereotypical character will show shades of grey in episodes to follow.

The first episode revolves around Tara finding her feet, literally, in the tumultuous audition week.

She is quickly drawn to the dashing Ethan (Pocock), elder brother of down to earth pal Kat (Banit). Dena (Armstrong) will soon emerge as a potential rival to Tara while Christian (Rodrigues) will show his rebellious streak and Sammy (Green) is a bit of a misfit. Dance, much of it classical, is at the heart of everything. Opportunity and a career will come from discipline.

The young cast, who have collectively appeared in Home and Away, Lockie Leonard, Emerald Falls, City Homicide, Summer Heights High and Blue Water High, are especially strong. With stage appearances in The Lion King, The Sound of Music, Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Australian Opera, they also impress with their dancing.

This is a series with energy, smartly fusing elements of So You Think You Can Dance (the kids will even learn contemporary and hip hop and have an end of year show at the Opera House) with Fame and Gossip Girl. The Academy is located at Walsh Bay in Sydney, with the stunning backdrop of the harbour and bridge. Other scenes make use of exteriors at the Museum for Contemporary Art. Everywhere Tara turns there is water, trains, ferries, blue sky, the Opera House and that huge, captivating bridge.

Some scenes, notably on Tara’s farm, are strikingly shot.

There is a genuine romantic quality at work here. While it isn’t as raw as former ABC youth dramas such as Heartbreak High, it surpasses recent popular children’s drama Dead Gorgeous.

The series is produced by Joanna Werner (H20: Just Add Water, The Elephant Princess) and written and created by Samantha Strauss (H20: Just Add Water). Like BlueWater High it is produced not just for ABC but for Germany’s public broadcaster ZDF. They should eat up its escapist tone.

What will be interesting to watch is how the show deals with contemporary teenage issues against its theatrical background. If it can manage to pull that off it will be the television equivalent of the name theatre folk give to multitalented singer-actor-dancers -”the triple threat.”

Dance Academy premieres 5:20pm Monday May 31st on ABC1.

11 Comments »

  1. Diana Carolina July 13, 2011 at 11:58 am -

    I love this program and I have 12 years and I want to be a dancer like Tara because she very excited to be a professional ballet dancer

  2. chloe March 18, 2011 at 4:13 pm -

    it was so excited to watched the show

  3. Kat February 22, 2011 at 6:10 pm -

    OMG i love this show!! I watched all 26 episodes in 2 days. I can’t wait for the second season to come out. :) It never gets old. <3333

  4. greeannie July 2, 2010 at 1:27 am -

    i really like this show and i watch it every night. but unfortunately there is Only 26 episodes. im hoping there is going to be more its soo Good. it such a good show with drama and romance and ambition.

  5. franz chong June 30, 2010 at 4:13 pm -

    A great show.Have missed a few weeks though due to work hours though

  6. Tracy Stephens-Wood June 18, 2010 at 11:19 pm -

    in response to jen who says this
    The middle guy in the photo with this article is not at all turned out. I’m wondering what the dance background is of the actors in this show?

    i actually know this person who plays sammy and he is a very talented dancer my daughter used to be in the same dance class as him some years ago now and when he dances you just cant help but stare he is a decent kid with a good dance background
    and also you have to remember they are acting so some of these dancers could be not dancing to the best of thier abilities because that is the character they play

    as for the other characters i couldnt tell you about their dancing careers

  7. Mikaela June 16, 2010 at 9:22 pm -

    I absoulty love it. I love it that much that i cant miss an eposiode…. It really healps me with tips and steps i can put into my own dances. I think the main reason i love this show is because im a ballet dance myself! :)
    Cant wait to see more seasons of it in the future.. Yay! :D

  8. Lara June 13, 2010 at 5:29 pm -

    I just watched this show and its actually really good! I love it already and i cant wait to watch more episodes because it completly rocks! i love all the drama in it and i think it makes the show really interesting.
    And i am a dancer myself so thats probably another reason i think it rocks lol! :)

  9. Jen May 30, 2010 at 9:18 am -

    The middle guy in the photo with this article is not at all turned out. I’m wondering what the dance background is of the actors in this show?

  10. Anthony Mai May 25, 2010 at 7:29 pm -

    So excited about this show (I’m 18) Lol. Looking forward to it, but not sure if i’ll remember to watch it at 5.20 everyday

  11. r4 sdhc May 19, 2010 at 3:25 pm -

    Millennium offers all traditional types of dance and some hard to find like, Irish Step, Ballroom, Break dancing, Poping and much more. They are excellent at breaking down the steps and providing tips to help you tweak your footwork, spins and styling.

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