On the back of the success of the two-time Emmy nominated Australian television series of the same name, Dance Academy, the movie, is about to hit cinemas.
The film continues the story of the group of teenagers attending the elite dance training at the National Academy of Dance, but picks up eighteen months after the television series finale.
The much-loved characters from the series that became a global phenomenon have moved on from the Academy and are living very different lives.
Former ballet student, Tara (Xenia Goodwin), was destined to become one of the top dancers of her generation before a devastating injury crippled her career.
Haunted by the night she was injured, Tara embarks on a near impossible comeback in the film by leaving her life and love behind in Sydney, and jetting off to the USA where she meets up with dance friends Ben (Thomas Lacey) and Kat (Alicia Banit).
While Tara sets her sights on proving to the ballet world and to herself that she still has what it takes, it’s only when Tara finally achieves everything she ever wanted that she discovers where she truly belongs – somewhere she never would have expected.
Thomas, who plays Tara’s friend and dance partner Ben Tickle says he has really enjoyed his time in the television series is excited to be a part of this film.
“I’ve loved it so much. It’s been my first major TV show and feature film and it’s been a long process but an enjoyable one,” he says. “I originally auditioned for Sammy but I missed out on that one, but then I auditioned for Ben, the role I got and have been around for a few seasons and the film, which has been great.”
With the global popularity of the television series, taking the show to the silver screen seems like a natural transition, and one that Thomas says was fairly seamless.
“We had a lot of the same cast and crew come with us to shoot the film, so it didn’t feel very different,” he says. “The only real difference was we had a bit more time to film.
“Shooting 26 episodes in a television season, you have to shoot reasonably quickly, but there were some days where we only shot 30 seconds of film, so that was one of the only major differences,” he laughs.
The main protagonist, Tara takes her ambitions to New York and then Texas in the film, which Thomas says was one of the great perks of filming Dance Academy.
“We shot about two months in Sydney then spent a week shooting in New York. It was an amazing experience to be able to shoot over there. There are some great landmarks and offbeat places, so it was a really good time. I’d been to New York before when I was quite a bit younger so it was great to go back. I’m a huge music theatre fan, so it was wonderful to see shows over there,” he says.
And speaking of music theatre, Thomas Lacey is a triple threat (singer, dancer, actor), and we asked him which of the three was his greatest love.
“I don’t think I could split them up! I’ve been dancing since I was two, I did my first professional music theatre show when I was seven, so it’s always been a part of my life. Someone who inspires me and who I aspire to be like is Hugh Jackman, because he labels himself as an actor who does everything. That’s where I want to be,” he says.
Thomas plays Ben Tickle, who is faced with life altering challenges in both the TV show and the film, and Thomas says he and his character share the same lust for life.
“Ben is eager, loves life and, because he has had bouts of cancer, he lives life to the fullest. That’s his motto and I like to aspire to that as well. But the difference between us is that I couldn’t go to a ballet company; it’s just not something I’d aspire to do,” he says.
While the film follows the engaging story of Tara realising her ambitions on the world stage, Thomas says the Dance Academy brand has always dealt with the big issues and he hopes audiences take something special away with them when they see it.
“All the way from series one, Dance Academy has been a teen drama that deals with real issues and goes right into the details of what kids these days are going through. So I feel very, very lucky that I can be a part of bringing that to the screen. Most people have been touched by cancer in some way,” he says.
“I have had kids through to parents come up to me saying they love the show and appreciate the subjects it deals with so it has a very wide reach and I’m proud to be a part of that. I think it’s a beautiful film and it really does the TV show justice, so I hope people take the message from it to live life to the fullest and do what they aspire to do.”
Dance Academy is in cinemas April 6.
View the trailer here: