Thursday, February 23, 2012

NEW SHOW: Dance Academy

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

So this show is only new to the US. It came out in Australia back in 2010, and they're going to start their second series (season) next month. I found a few Australian sources that covered the show, but I'm going to give it a go anyway, for three reasons. First, I know we have some teenage readers (over a dozen entries for a VicTORious CD taught me that!), second, I love dancers and thought that the first episode was decent, and third, I figure that there will be quite a few people who won't find those Australian websites easily and hopefully this will give them better access to the show.

On the surface, Dance Academy looks like most teenage dance movies... a girl from a small town wants to be a prima ballerina and she's faced with a mean girl along the way. I imagine we'll be in for some eating disorders, backstabbing, last-minute injuries, rule-breaking, and maybe even some concerns about sexual orientation. The first episode introduced us to Tara, who lives in a rural area of Australia. She's a bit technically behind in her skills, but she has great instincts and is accepted to the National Academy, where she'll live, eat, and sleep ballet.

Dance Academy "Learning to Fly, Part 1" (S01E01): Three weeks ago, Tara auditioned for the National Academy, and now she practices in a field, waiting to hear back from them. The bulk of the episode is told through flashback, and we see that she struggled throughout the week-long audition phase. She accidentally changes in the men's room, which leads to some teasing and embarrassment. [poor girl. how mortifying!] She gets along well with her roommate, Abigail, who even lends her a leotard. We're given the impression that Tara's family doesn't have a ton of money (or her mother is a seamstress), as her own leotard is homemade. Tara quickly learns that she's behind, but her great physical potential, flexibility, and intuition help her out.
Photo: Steve Brack/Dance Academy Productions
Tara meets more people at a party, but she's teased some more and ends up leaving after a drink is spilled on her. [oooh, so underground parties and drinking might also come into play on this show.] Abigail helps out Tara on a few moves, but after a teacher tells Abigail to take a note from how Tara does things, her attitude changes. On their final night there, Tara leaves the building after curfew to listen to a voicemail from her father, then to dance at a gazebo. [tsk tsk!] It's implied that Abigail rats her out, so she's brought in for questioning... being guilty will disqualify her. Luckily, Katrina (Kat) bursts in to say that Tara bunked with her because Abigail was snoring. The faculty believes this story. [I would've checked with Kat's roommate to corroborate, personally.]

The episode ends with Tara reading her acceptance letter.
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