Dance Academy: The Movie (aka The Comeback) offers lovely scenes of young dancers performing difficult ballet numbers. Because Iím a big fan of dance on film, this movie was a treat for me. However, I havenít seen the TV series which serves as its prequel. (How did that happen? I usually watch everything about dance!) So, dear reader, please understand that this review concentrates strictly on the movie, which is satisfying enough to stand on its own, mostly because of an endearing lead performance by Xenia Goodwin -- and the dance sequences, of course.
Goodwin plays Tara, a young woman who trained as a ballerina but had to give it up because of an injury caused while performing. Tara has become interested in writing and thinks she has no chance to be a ballerina again. She even files a law suit against the ballet company where her fall took place. When the artistic director of that ballet company (Miranda Otto) suggests that she audition again, Taraís life journey changes. But where will it end?
Ballerina danced till her fall.
But now sheís faced with a new call.
Can she come back into the fray
to dance again -- and every day?
She tries and tries for a comeback.
What is it that she seems to lack?
"Dance Academy" shows her pluck
and reveals she needs more than luck.
What can she do to share her art?
Itís dance that lies within her heart.
Jumbled at first, this film excels
in lovely scenes where music swells.
Plus, dancers show what they can do.
Thereís nothing here for me to boo.
Still, more dance scenes would have been nice.
Then I would see this movie twice.
Many people help Tara on her journey, including: her boyfriend Christian (Jordan Rodriguez), who teaches hip-hop to disadvantaged children; Ben (Thomas Lacey), a dancer friend from the past who has terminal cancer; Kat (Alicia Banit), the star of a kiddie TV show in New York; Abigail (Dena Kaplan), a member of the National Ballet; and Ollie (Keiynan Lonsdale), a dancer who faces repeated rejections. Although there are ups and downs in Taraís relationship with these characters, itís refreshing to see how they work things out -- and all the actors breathe life into their characters in each scene.
Directed by Jeffrey Walker (Aliís Wedding) and written by Samantha Strauss (The Wrong Girl), Dance Academy: The Movie earns a place on my Guilty Pleasures list. Goodwin projects an ethereal quality when she dances -- and even in other scenes, so I was drawn to her character. I also love the sensitive way the romance theme -- SPOILER ALERT-- of breaking up and re-uniting is integrated into the story.
(Released by ZDF Enterprises; not rated by MPAA.)
For more information about this film, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.