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Dance Academy

Over three seasons, the Australian TV series ‘Dance Academy’ danced a storm. Proving popular with teenage audiences, its’ soap-opera style dramatics made stars of the talented participants. Exploring the often cut-throat world of professional dancing, the issues raised were ones all could relate. With any success come spin-offs with the movie version now here. As high quality as its TV forebear, it should appeal to fans with toe-tapping action within its compelling canvas.

Eighteen months after a fall nearly ends her career, aspiring dancer Tara Webster (Xenia Goodwin) aims to return to the fray. Determined to utilise her talents, she travels to New York so she can be selected for a prestigious dance company. Along the way she hooks up with friends including Christian (Jordon Rodrigues), Kat (Alicia Banit) and Ben (Thomas Lacey). Fate hands Tara and her friends with unusual twists in their journey towards achieving their dreams.

Those who loved the series will find much to enjoy in ‘Dance Academy’s film. The core ingredients are easily seen with strong characters, direction and writing evident. It also expands the series’ canvas by going overseas and showing a wider world of dancing competition. It isn’t all tutus and tiaras with rivalry and deception paramount. These are expressed with skill by a solid young cast effortlessly slipping back into familiar roles.

Where ‘Dance Academy’ falters is in its lack of backstory. Whilst long-time fans can easily pick up on previous plot threads, the film makes little allowances for non-fans. Exposition goes a long way to bring in broader audiences which is a mistake several TV to film franchises have made. This takes away from the movie being a complete success despite the energy all bring. The locations and visuals, especially in the dancing sequences, are superb and add another colourful flavour to the existing series.

For fans, ‘Dance Academy’ provides a satisfying experience. Others may be perplexed at character relationships and motivations. It will be interesting if this spins-off into a film franchise with scope for more back-stage tales and drama as only the series can provide.

Rating out of 10: 7

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