Dance Academy: The Movie (PG, 101mins) Directed by Jeffrey Walker ★★★
I know what you’re thinking – another teen dance movie? Really? And yes, there’s no denying that’s what Dance Academy is. But it also happens to be a pretty good one.
The film is a sequel to the popular Australian TV series of the same name that ran on the ABC from 2010-2013. It followed the lives of a group of teens attending an elite dance school in Sydney and won plenty of fans for its raw and realistic portrayal of teen issues.
READ MORE: Movie Review: Dance Academy – a hugely enjoyable slice of teen drama
Director Jeffrey Walker manages to bring that same realness to the film, which picks up about a year-and-a-half after the series ended and continues to follow the stories of the original cast members.
Among them is Tara (Xenia Goodwin), who was once a star ballet dancer before a freak accident during a performance left her with a broken back.
Having pushed aside her dream of being a professional dancer, Tara is now almost fully recovered and trying to become a writer instead – without much success. She’s also set to receive a lucrative settlement for her injury, but there’s a catch – accepting the money would mean admitting her ballet career is well and truly over.
Clearly, there wouldn’t be much of story if she chose that option, so it’s not surprising when she turns down the settlement and decides to take one last crack at her dance dream.
This means leaving behind her dancer boyfriend (and fellow Dance Academy grad) Christian (Jordan Rodrigues) and heading off to the US. There, she meets up with more of the old gang and discovers they, too, are struggling to make it out there in the real world, dealing with everything from selfie scandals to sickness to shattered dreams.
As she inches closer to her ultimate goal, Tara starts to question whether it’s all been worth it. Is this really what she wants? Or is it time to find a new dream?
Granted, fans of the TV series will likely get more out of this film than newcomers, but there’s enough to keep them satisfied, too.
Though not without its flaws (and a few cheesy moments), Dance Academy manages to portray a relatable story that doesn’t sugarcoat the difficult journey from teenager to adulthood.
When you combine that with likeable characters, relevant issues and entertaining dance numbers, there’s a lot to like about this teen dance flick.