Starring: Xenia Goodwin, Alicia Banit, Dena Kaplan, Jordan Rodrigues, Keiynan Lonsdale, Thomas Lacey, Tara Morice and Miranda Otto
Director: Jeffrey Walker Writter: Samantha Strauss Producer: Joanna Werner
The feature film, DANCE ACADEMY continues the story of global phenomenon and incredibly successful two-time Emmy nominated Australian television series of the same name. The series saw a group of teenagers through the ups-and-downs of elite dance training at the National Academy of Dance. Picking up eighteen months after the television series finale, the much-loved characters have moved on from the Academy and are living very different lives.
Former ballet student, Tara (Xenia Goodwin), was destined to become one of the top dancers of her generation before a devastating injury crippled her career. Tara tries to move on and embrace life as a university student but cannot get over her dream of dancing professionally. Haunted by the night she was injured, Tara embarks on a near impossible comeback. Leaving her life and love behind in Sydney, Tara is determined to prove to the ballet world and to herself that she still has what it takes.
As the rejections pile up, Tara fiercely tries to fit the unrelenting ballet mould, straining herself and the relationships with the people that care for her. She realises she has to find, and trust, her own voice before she loses everything that truly matters. This journey will take Tara far from home, reuniting with her Academy friends, ex-loves and former enemies, all still chasing their dreams after graduation in their own ways. But from New York to Texas and then finally onto the world stage, it's only when Tara finally achieves everything she ever wanted that she discovers where she truly belongs – somewhere she never would have expected. Tara discovers what being defined by a dream really means.
With all the familiar favourites from the original series and some new faces, DANCE ACADEMY is a heartwarming story of ordinary people fighting to achieve their extraordinary dreams.
Growing up on a farm outside the tiny town of Patchewolling, Tara Webster spent her childhood dancing barefoot in sheep paddocks with a fairy tale dream of becoming a ballerina. At fifteen, when she was accepted into the National Academy of Dance, the top ballet school in the country, Tara couldn't help feeling like her life was about to begin. She arrived in Sydney the undisputed underdog and three tumultuous years later emerged with the potential to be one of the great dancers of her generation"her contract with the National Ballet Company a certainty, her future written in the stars. However on the night Tara auditioned for a contract, she slipped on stage, broke a vertebrae in her back, impacting her spinal cord. In this one moment Tara's entire life changed forever.
Eighteenth months later, Tara is back on her feet. After several surgeries and months of physiotherapy, her back has mostly healed and her new focus is fitting into life as a university student. But even there her plan of becoming a novelist isn't turning out to be as viable as she secretly hoped. Tara spends time with her long term boyfriend Christian, a teacher at a local drop-in dance centre, and works as an usher at the Opera House, watching her former rival and current housemate, Abigail, perform with the National Ballet Company.
Tara's trying valiantly to make the most of the cards she's been dealt but while she loves Christian, she's haunted by the past and who she used to be. Tara badly misses her best friend Kat who has just landed a starring role on a hit television series that's filming in New York. She also misses Ben, her friend and former boyfriend, who's the newest rising star of the Austin Ballet. Tara feels like her former classmates have all made proper lives for themselves after graduation while she's still floundering.
It definitely doesn't help she's in the middle of a lawsuit, suing the National Ballet for negligence that resulted in her injury. Tara knows that legally claiming she's been robbed of a professional ballet career means she is effectively giving up any chance of making a comeback, and when it is crunch time, she's just not prepared to say she can never dance again. Company auditions are four months away and, even though everyone around her thinks it's an impossible mission (that makes Christian sick with worry) Tara trains harder than she ever has in her life. The basis of her Academy-trained technique is still in her muscles and, in her heart, she's holding onto the hope offered by Madeline, Artistic Director of the Company, who seems to see a unique potential in her.
When audition day arrives, Tara's prepared technically but not emotionally and is devastated when Madeline refuses to progress her to the next round. Betrayed yet again by the ballet world, Tara is offered a life-raft by Kat: a trip to New York. Kat intends it as a holiday but Tara is burning with the need to prove to the Company (and to the world, and to herself) she is still a contender. New York is the city of dreams and Tara is going to fight as hard as she possibly can to make hers come true and find a position with a dance company. But as the rejections pile up, and she tears herself apart to fit the unrelenting ballet mould, Tara's forced to finally question what truly matters most. In a journey that takes her from Sydney to New York to Texas and then onto the world stage, Tara discovers a side of herself she never knew existed: her voice, the stories she wants to tell. It's only when Tara finally achieves everything she ever wanted she discovers where she truly belongs – somewhere she never would've expected.
Whether you are an avid fan or a newcomer to Dance Academy, there is something magical about this cast as they draw you into their world of dance. Packed with drama, comedy, theatrics and of course dance this film will be adored by all ages.
For fans of Dance Academy this is the perfect follow up to a sensational series, developing the characters of Tara, Christian, Kat, Ben, Abigail and Ollie as enter the real world of a working life. After an accident that finished Tara's career, her lifelong dream of becoming a professional dancer, Tara stands at crossroads, will she dance again or persue legal action. Tara risks everything to follow her dreams, but faced with tough choices, realizes that maybe her dreams just need to be redefined.
Dance Academy explores some tough life lessons like the traps of social media, friendship, illness and facing your demons.
Dance Academy bravely shows the ugly side of the entertainment industry and the struggles faced by many, but also that in darkness there is always hope. And for those who truly follow their inner voice and dare to think outside the box, dreams can become a reality.
Uplifting and moving, this stand alone movie will delight all and is a credit to the Australian Film Industry, outstanding!
Michelle Warmuz - Editor
Girl.com.au / Femail.com.au
Watch Alicia Banit's (Kat) Interview on Dance Academy the Movie with Steph Warmuz.