DANCE ACADEMY IS THE BEST SHOW EVER… NO LIKE SERIOUSLY!
Starstruck September guest post by reader Jen
Dance Academy… It’s sort of like The Breakfast Club.
Put a bunch of teenagers – each of them so very different from the other – in school and you’ve got the standard premise for a children’s television show.
There’s the wide-eyed country girl, who reeks of positivity and optimism, and exudes Natural Talent. A boy from the Wrong Side of the Tracks who needs this to not be in jail, despite his capabilities. The Darling of the dance world and her brother; she questions whether she deserves to be there and he’s desperate to prove himself in spite of his famous surname. A girl who has been dreaming of the National Ballet Company and working towards this moment since she was a toddler in her mother’s dance studio, and just doesn’t get along with the sweet, sensitive Jewish boy who dances much to the disappointment of his father, because Real Men Don’t Dance.
But for Dance Academy that is where the cliché’s end.
If perfection is what you strive for and nothing is perfect, how do you overcome that? You work harder, become more meticulous, but when it is your body that’s working against you, can you fix that too?
Everyone you’ve ever cared about has left, so what makes this place so different? You can’t let yourself get too attached, too comfortable, because this is only temporary until you are out on your own. At least, that’s what you tell everyone.
If you aren’t dancing to rebel, then why do you do it at all?
By playing the Class Clown you build up a wall between yourself and the reality of your life. You’ve never been a ‘typical family’ and for the most part you don’t let it bother you, but you have to wonder whether your mother knows you at all. And if you take away the part of you that she’s interested in – the dancing part – do you have a relationship at all?
A belief in fairytales and Happily Ever After is fine, but can you really keep your head in the clouds and flying high when your wings are clipped and you come crashing back to earth?
I want to make something perfectly clear. This show is aimed at teenage girls, probably from the age of 13 to 17, a demographic which I am not in. And yet I started watching from the middle of Season 1 and haven’t looked back. What can I say? I was lured in by attractive people, and pretty dancing, and was fully prepared to become mildly interested in the inevitable love triangle between the good girl, bad boy and heartthrob.
But what they don’t tell you about Dance Academy – it’s not listed anywhere on the ABC3 website – is this show sucks you in, and suddenly you’re marathoning the entirety of Season 1 on Youtube and googling spoilers and pawning over pictures of Jordan Rodrigues’ face, and before you even realize it you’re hooked.
And then the writers decide to grab you firmly by the chest and rip your heart out.
This is one of the only shows where I have openly sobbed – like, my mum had to knock on my bedroom door and ask if I was okay – and if you remain spoiler-free then it’s like a punch to the guts and you wonder about the point of humanity and where is the justice, if you can’t trust a kids show about dancers.
So, while this seems like a deceptively simple show, I can assure you it is not. Each character is layered and storylines intertwine, and it has a better grip on continuity than many other Australian adult dramas.
It is also unprecedented in its popularity. For some reason I do not understand why Screen Australia do not commission children’s series’ for more than 2 seasons, and yet Dance Academy, was given a third (due to “exceptional circumstances”) – because you can not end the show RIGHT THERE! – albeit at half the number of episodes as the previous two.
So there is a sense of urgency in the storytelling this season as you can tell they are trying to bring together all the unresolved storylines. But if you thought they were going to tie everything up in a nice little package of Everyone Can Achieve Their Dreams, then you’re a certainly mistaken. As one of the characters puts it (and I can’t help feeling this is a message from the Writers to the Fans): “You can’t wrap the entire Academy experience up into a bow.
We are on the cusp of the final episode and I have never been more excited/nervous/weary of a finale in any fandom I’ve been a part of (except maybe Harry Potter, but that is something unto itself). I keep trying to remind myself that it is a children’s tv show, what could they possibly do? But Dance Academy has never followed the formula and certainly never shied away from hitting the hard and difficult stuff right where you know it’s going to hurt. And if anything, this show has certainly reinforced my belief that if everything seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
Now here is my challenge.
If you haven’t watched this show then there are 52 episodes and two full Series already on Youtube waiting for you. I also maintain that no one can sit and watch the first two seasons without reaching episode 51 and balling your eyes out. If you can, then you are quite possibly a robot.
When it comes down to it: Dance Academy is special.
There is no other show like it, and I doubt there ever will be. It’s a show that makes a big deal of the things that need to be highlighted, and doesn’t dwell on the other stuff. It knows that being a teenager is hard and you go through more self-discovery in that short space of time than at any other age. It understands that life is funny, unexpected, and challenging.
And it’s only when you get out the other side that you get a chance to sit back and reflect, thinking to yourself: “Did I really do all of that?”
The final episode of Dance Academy airs Monday, October 30 at 6:05pm on ABC3.
You can follow Jen on her Tumblr page HERE
ABOUT STARSTRUCK SEPTEMBER
Listen up ‘I Am Starstruck-ers’!
Brace yourselves for a 30 day Aussie celeb bonanza.
Throughout September, we’ll be posting sizzling posts about the hottest local talent doing us proud on Aussie shores and abroad.
But wait, it just gets better..We’d love YOU to be involved.
Fancy a guest writing spot on ‘I Am Starstruck’?
'I Am Starstruck' is all about sharing the love of Australian entertainment and this month we want to give you a greater voice through the blog.
On certain days in September, we’ll be posting a fan post from an ‘I Am Starstruck’ follower which delves into the life of an Aussie star or the story lines of an Aussie TV show or perhaps provides some commentary on the local fashion scene.
It can range from an evaluation of the River Boys’ tattoos to an RIP Patrick Reid rant to an uber head over heels girl crush diary entry about Jen Hawkins.
Any posts about your fave Aussie entertainment are welcome and all you’ve got to do is email your entry through to firstname.lastname@example.org NOW with your name and Twitter handle.
Get typing guys - this is going to be the most starstruck September you’ll ever see!
Image Source: ABC