Film Review – Dance Academy

 

I was dreading seeing this film.

Definitely a title I expected to see in the company of my 9 year old daughter who loves dancing and loves any kind of teen drama production.

Dance Academy the TV series ran for three seasons and was nominated for an Emmy and won a Logie before winding up in 2013.

Now the feature film which is a sequel to the television series, set 18 months after the events of series three, follows Tara’s journey as she pursues her dream to become a ballerina star in New York.

Created by Samantha Strauss, an Australian screenwriter from the Gold Coast, whose own life mirrors the experience of the protagonist Tara Webster (Xenia Goodwin), a gifted ballerina who suffers a career ending injury.

This background makes sense as the dialogue and storyline on this film feel like we could be watching a doco about young dancers navigating their way through their professional and personal lives in an unforgiving industry.

Having never been in touch with my own body, witnessing the rigours of a dancer’s routine are not my idea of a good time. But the movement and expression that is conveyed in the dancing in the film, along with the realistic interpretation of the pain and suffering required to become the best (like any professional athlete) make this film something much heavier than what it could have been.

The cast, who I am utterly unfamiliar with are superb, clearly having inhabited their characters for long enough to be entirely comfortable in their skin.

The direction from Jeffrey Walker captures the nuances of each character’s development and he manages to wring genuine emotion from scenes that could well play as saccharine under the wrong guidance.

Overall the film steers a course expertly through difficult waters to arrive at it’s destination in triumphant fashion, and it definitely converted this old timer.

Top of the Class – 4 Stars

 

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