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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this Australian drama series centers on a group of teens who live and study together at a prestigious dance academy, and the close quarters breed some budding teen crushes, so you can expect some kissing, cuddling, semi-nudity (girls in bras and panties), and references to sex. The mix of personalities also leads to some rebellious behavior like breaking curfew and lying to teachers, as well as some infighting among the competitive dancers. That said, the most striking quality of this enjoyable series is its dissimilarity to many of the flashy teen-geared shows available today, thanks to relatable, diverse characters and realistic interpersonal issues that are handled with maturity.
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What's the story?
Tara Webster (Xenia Goodwin) grew up in a small town in the Australian countryside, where she danced through sheep pastures dreaming of taking to the stage as a principal ballerina. When she's accepted into the country's prestigious National Academy of Dance, she's thrilled at the possibility of studying among the best, but she arrives in Sydney to find her skills lagging behind those of her peers and herself as the target of "mean girl" Abigail (Dena Kaplan), who sees Tara's passion for dance as a threat to her top spot in the class. With her new friends, Kat (Alicia Banit) and Sammy (Tom Green), and her handsome new love interest, Ethan (Tim Pocock), Tara hopes to find her place in the academy and finally realize her dream.
Is it any good?
DANCE ACADEMY is a striking departure from the glitzy teen-centered shows that have infiltrated the market for the American audience. These Aussie teens don't carry Prada bags and wear 3-inch heels to high school, where they do more gossiping or primping than studying. Instead, they're focused on their passion for dance and are willing to work hard to achieve their dreams. When they hit bumps in the road, they deal with them with the help of friends and, in Tara's case, a strong family unit that inspires the best in her. Their troubles with peers, dating, and personal insecurities reflect real-world issues for average teens and present opportunities for positive problem-solving and self-reflection.
Navigating teen relationships is a central theme that's explored through the eyes of naive Tara, who copes with back-stabbing from frenemy Abigail, a rebellious influence from good-hearted Kat, and the uncertainties of romantic relationships. This pleasant series takes a realistic look at these kinds of issues within the context of an endearing story about overcoming odds and following dreams. As a bonus, viewers are treated to some impressive dancing of various styles as well as some sweeping Australian scenery.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about peer pressure. Why do some people use their influence to control others' actions? What do they gain from the arrangement? How does this kind of pressure affect how its victims feel about themselves?
Teens: What issues in your life impact your self-confidence? Are there friends who are positive or negative influences on how you view yourself? What activities do you enjoy that make you feel good about yourself?
Do you think this show accurately portrays the nature of teen romances? How do your peers express their feelings toward each other? Why is communication essential to a healthy relationship?
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For kids who love dancing
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