Dance Academy is an Australian show about Tara Webster, a girl who is accepted into the National Academy of Dance, a very prestigious school for dancers. She travels from her little town to Sydney, when through the years she will learn different dances – such as ballet or hip hop – and she will form bonds with fellow students.
It sounds cheesy but it’s more than teen romance and fights with friends. Since the first episode, we can see how tough the dance world is, with this series showing a fairly accurate representation of it: parents who pressure their kids, body standards, jealousy and sabotage. This goes along with self-discovery and coming-of-age plots.
The first season is pretty light, mainly an introduction to the characters and their personalities. However, it touches some serious subjects like Abigail’s bulimia, trying to fit with the body standard for ballet, and Tara’s back injury.
Season two it’s where the show goes off. With the cast more connected with their characters, we can see their acting improving, as well as the writing. This season main arch is the journey to the Prix de Fonteyn, an international ballet competition. Following season one, the choreographies and dances don’t disappoint. But while the former was focused mostly on Tara, we can say this one main protagonist is Sammy, Tara’s best friend who faces his father, who wants him to be a doctor, while discovering his sexuality. His storyline is not forced nor overdramatic, showing the struggles of coming out. Tara’s back injury comes back, showcasing how an abusive teacher can practically ruin your life. But the main point of this season comes at the end when this group of teenagers need to face death and the loss of someone they love.
The third and final season is focused in their last year at the Academy when they have to choose their future and try to get a spot in the company. Christian doesn’t know if he wants to keep dancing, while Tara gets against Abigail trying to get the contract with the company. This coming-of-age season tries -and succeeds- finishing on a light note, showing how sometimes we accomplish our goals and other times things take a turn we didn’t expect.
This T.V. show may look like others at first, but it helped me a lot when I was young. Kids and not-really-kids can enjoy this show because it doesn’t stop being realistic and that’s the main appeal: a series that shows you good and bad, how can anyone has happy moments as well as sad and how teens’ life it’s a bit more complicated than party and relationships. (But it doesn’t leave out that either).
All three seasons can be found on Netflix.