Dance Academy

 
(i)

 

Realistic Aussie drama explores teen issues like dating.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

A mixed bag. The series explores the physical and emotional commitment that makes it possible to follow your dreams. Strong family relationships and a sense of identity based on ties to home are presented as positive qualities and contribute to Tara's inner strength. Friendships develop among unlikely groups, and the cast reflects real-world diversity. Bad behavior usually has consequences of some kind. On the downside, competition breeds manipulation on the part of some of the dancers, and it's not always easy to discern whose intention are malicious.

Positive role models

Instructors are quick with criticism but fair in their assessments, and they demand respect from their students. Teens run the gamut on behavioral models, from self-assured and moralistic to conniving and underhanded. As a plus, these characters are less flashy and generally look more like average teens than do many of those on other shows.

Violence

Intermittent fistfights draw blood but have no lasting effects. Some "mean girl" bullying.

Sex

Girls are shown in bras and panties, and guys sometimes bare their chiseled chests. Couples kiss and fondle each other, and there are implications that some teens sleep around. Flirting is commonplace among the teen characters.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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?

TV details

Cast:Alicia Banit, Dena Kaplan, Xenia Goodwin
Network:TeenNick
Genre:Drama
Topics:Arts and dance, Friendship, High school
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:Streaming

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 11 years old February 29, 2012
 

Dance? More like DRAMA!!!

I like the messages of this show (try your best, be able to take risks, and be the real you) BUT, it's a little bit too sexual for me. In the beginning, Tara goes to the wrong bathroom, and unknowingly takes off her shirt, showing her bra to a guy she's never met. Than she and Kat jump off a BALCONY in their bikini's into a bay, with no idea about what could be down there! A BAY!!!! A boy has to room with Kat, cause their's not enough boy dormitries! That's not right! Infact, while the boys putting in his contacts, Kat's changing, because she think's that he can't see her, when he can! There are fistfights and cattyness. Tara hits a fellow student in the face with her dance shoe! It's very competitive, and the mean girl, Abigail is always trying to get Tara expelled. This show is not about dance, it's about Drama. Drama that parents teach their children not to create. I am not approving this show.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much sex
Kid, 10 years old June 7, 2012
 

BEST SHOW EVER!

This is a great show! Any boy under 12 shouldn't be watching. A girl gets drunk. There is one character who is bisexual and one who is gay. There is fighting, dating and making out. Crap and pissed are common, also one character breaks another characters back purposely.
What other families should know
Great role models
Parent Written bysumoni May 19, 2012
 

Wonderful show for preteens and up.

I really enjoy this show. I've watched 1 season and a few episodes of the 2nd. I do think you shouldn't let your kid watch it alone and here's why. Although you have a group of teens trying to become great dancers while finding themselves, big thing is their still learning. So they're going to make mistakes and get hurt just like any other teen. So it's important as a parent to make sure your son/daughter understands the consequences of the actions the characters do and why they shouldn't be mimicked. For example the character Kat, is very goofy, loves to be herself, and is very optimistic. Something a young girl would like to look up to. However due to Kat's home life, she doesn't fully appreciate how lucky she is to be at a privileged school. She treats her place sometimes as a joke and gets irritated when her friends don't want to goof off with her. She feels it's better to rebel and do what makes you feel good, rather than do what needs to be done. That's a great chance to talk to a pre-teen about personal responsibility, entitlement, and the importance of hard work. Also, Kat's mother is VERY neglectful, so it better explains why Kat acts the way she does.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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