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Dance Academy - Film Review

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by Nicholas Gordon (subscribe)
Freelance writer based in Sydney.
Published April 2nd 2017
Big dreams
Dance Academy picks up 18 months after the conclusion of the hit television series of the same name. The hugely popular Australian show followed the ups and downs of dancers trying to crack the big time at the National Academy of Dance. The program garnered two Emmy nominations and was screened around the world.

When the film begins, the lives of the dancers have changed greatly. Tara (Xenia Goodwin) was once destined for greatness, a once-in-a-generation dancer. But a crippling injury sustained during a performance has shattered her career and her dreams. She's now been forced to take a job as a waitress at the Opera House, serving the very people who used to come and watch her perform.

With the support of her boyfriend, dance teacher Christian (Jordan Rodrigues), Tara is looking for recompense for her injuries. She's suing the ballet company and a big payday is in the offing. But there's no turning back - she will never be able to dance for them again if she receives damages for her injuries.

Christian urges Tara to take a settlement and get on with her life. But Tara can't shake the idea of making a comeback. And when ballet company director Madeline Moncur (Miranda Otto) asks Tara to audition for a spot in the company, Tara must choose between a settlement and the chance to once again appear on stage doing what she loves.

Directed by Jefffrey Walker, Dance Academy is a slick product clearly geared towards the global mass-markets that shot the television series to fame. Set in Sydney, New York and Texas, the film makes great use of its locations. The Sydney scenes are all harbourside: Xenia works at the Opera House and boyfriend Christian lives in an apartment by the water. The US scenes see Times Square and Central Park used as backdrops. The entire look is polished, with great cinematography, and neat choreography and effects used in the dancing scenes.

The performances are sound too. Xenia Goodwin does just enough with Tara to make her determined and enjoyable. The surrounding cast of Tara's friends and fellow dancers also make good with their roles. Miranda Otto as the cold-as-ice ballet company director is brilliant, shoring the whole venture up.

Geared primarily towards a teenage audience, Dance Academy is light fare for anyone outside that age group. But it does what it sets out to do well, and boasts considered polish and solid performances.

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Why? For dancing dreams
When: In cinemas from April 6
Where: Cinemas nationally
Cost: Varies
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