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By Tania Phillips

DANCE ACADEMY (PG)
Main Cast: Miranda Otto, Keiynan Lonsdale, Jordan Rodrigues
Running time: 101 minutes

Dance Academy was the big hit of Australian television during the past decade – three series – sold around the world and two Emmy nominations in the US. This was the show that helped teach a generation of young Aussie kids about life.
So does it make an effective movie?
Well that’s the big question isn’t it?
Is this just a giant episode of Dance Academy or a legitimate big screen foray.
The original series followed a group of teens through the ups-and-downs of life at the National Academy of Dance. The movie picks up 18 months after the television series. The young dancers have all moved on from the academy and are trying to get on with their lives with varying degrees of success.
For the most part though this follows Tara’s journey (Xenia Goodwin) – destined to become one of the top dancers of her generation but robbed of that by a devastating injury that crippled her career.
All the favourites are back as well as some cameos (and a sizeable role for Miranda Otto as the villain/driven dance director) by some of Australia’s best-know actors.
With a great soundtrack and some amazing dance scenes, Dance Academy is visually interesting and shows the characters growing up and dealing with the next stage of their lives.
There is enough back-story to make it stand alone and indeed even attract a new audience, the plot is generally interesting and yet…
The story really focuses on Tara – and for many fans (particularly the 15 year-old with me) she was the least interesting and empathetic character. However it really comes alive (ironically) when Ben (Thomas Lacey) is injected into the plot. But although there are lack-lustre and cliched moments there is still enough of the original show that captured hearts of teens (and mums) to make it an enjoyable and ultimately interesting school holiday flick.

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