Filming commences on Dance Academy: The Movie

Xenia Goodwin (Tara) on set for Day 1 of filming
image - supplied

Principal photography on the first ever Dance Academy movie has commenced this week.

Dance Academy is the twice International Emmy®-nominated global phenomenon which launched the careers of some of Australia’s most sought-after young talent, spawned hundreds of fan sites and is currently screening in 160 countries around the world, including ZDF in Germany, Netflix in the US, and Nickelodeon in the UK.

The film’s production starts almost six years to the day of the premiere of Dance Academy Season 1 on May 31 2010, which saw Tara Webster (Xenia Goodwin), a 15-year-old from the country travel to Sydney to audition for a place at the National Academy of Dance, the top ballet school in Australia. Over the next three seasons we followed Tara and her friends through the ups and downs of elite dance training – ordinary teenagers growing up while fighting to achieve their extraordinary dreams.

Dance Academy: The Movie, to be shot in Sydney and New York, picks up eighteen months after the end of Season 3 when the characters, like the actors themselves, are all older and living completely different lives to their life in the Academy

Tara Webster (played by Xenia Goodwin) was destined to become one of the top dancers of her generation before a devastating injury crippled her career. In her quest to defy the odds, and make her comeback, Tara will discover what being defined by a dream really mean

Returning alongside Xenia is Dena Kaplan (Abigail), soon to be seen in Honey 3 (releasing later in 2016), and fast becoming renowned for her DJ work.  Thomas Lacey (Ben) was the lead role in Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom the Musical, and has also recently appeared in Winners and Losers (Seven Network) while Jordan Rodrigues (Christian) is currently playing a lead role on ABC (US) Family show The Fosters and just finished on the feature Breaking Through, Alicia Banit (Kat) will soon be seen on screen in the feature film We Were Tomorrow and Keiynan Lonsdale (Ollie) was recently seen in the Divergent sequel Insurgent. He has just finished shooting The Final Hours with Chris Pine and Casey Affleck and is a series regular in season two of The Flash. Dance Academy: The Movie also sees the return of Tara Morice playing Miss Raine. 

Dance Academy was created by writer Samantha Strauss (Mary: The Making of a Princess) with Producer & Executive Producer Joanna Werner (Secret City, Ready For This) and produced by Werner Film Productions. The film’s Executive Producers are Louise Smith (The Square, The Rage in Placid Lake), Bernadette O’Mahony (Worst Year of My Life Again, Mortified), Vicki O’Neil, Arne Lohmann and Nicole Keebe.

AACTA award winning Director Jeffrey Walker, who was the set-up director in Series 1, returns to helm the feature film, following international success on the multi-award winning series Modern Family, Hulu original series Difficult People, in addition to the Jack Irish telemovies Bad Debts and Black Tide and his debut feature film Ali’s Wedding.

The multi-award winning Heads of Department include DOP Martin McGrath ACS (Muriel’s Wedding), who shot all 65 episodes of Dance Academy’s three seasons, Production Designer, Byron Kennedy Award recipient and 4 time AFI Award winner Chris Kennedy (The Water Diviner, The Proposition, Cosi), five-time AFI award-winning Costume Designer Tess Schofield (The Water Diviner, The Sapphires, Bootmen), Hair and Make-up Designer Dalia Fernandez (Dance Academy, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Nim’s Island) and Editor Geoff Lamb (Early Winter, StalkHer, Return to Nim’s Island). 

Creator and writer Samantha Strauss said:

“We are so excited to be reunited! There have been many grand jetes up and down the corridors. The dancing is breathtaking and it’s so special to work with this cast again now they’re all grown up... not to mention lure Jeff Walker back from Hollywood. Happy, happy days!”

Producer and Executive Producer, Joanna Werner said:

“I’m thrilled to be starting the shoot for Dance Academy , this feature feels like a long time in the making and I’m amazed with the talent of the cast and crew we have assembled.  I can’t wait to see it in cinemas next year.”

Director Jeffrey Walker said:

“Dance Academy is incredibly close to my heart, working on this picture with Sam Strauss and Jo Werner is like coming home. The characters have matured with the audience and the film promises to deliver an incredible insight into the world of dance, not often seen. Australian cinema greats, designers Chris Kennedy and Tess Schofield, along with Director of Photography, Martin McGrath are collaborating with me to deliver a huge, widescreen cinematic experience."

Chief Executive of StudioCanal Australia and New Zealand, Elizabeth Trotman said:

“It’s wonderful to see the much-anticipated Dance Academy film commence production and we are proud to be a part of its exciting leap from television to feature film. At StudioCanal we are thrilled to be pulling on the leg warmers and pointe shoes to bring this loved property to fans and new audiences.”

Dance Academy: The Movie is produced by Werner Film Productions with investment from Screen Australia, Screen NSW, Film Victoria, The Australian Children’s Television Foundation and Soundfirm.  

Dance Academy: The Movie is distributed in Australia & NZ by StudioCanal with international sales by ZDF Enterprises Germany.

In addition to twice being nominated for an International Emmy® Award in the Kids: Series Category, Dance Academy has taken out the following awards:

• 2 Australian Logie Awards for Most Outstanding Children’s Program

• 2 Gold Plaques at the Chicago Film Festival’s Hugo Television Awards

• 1 Silver and 2 Bronze World Medals at the at the New York Festival’s International Television & Film Awards

• 2 Australian Writer’s Guild Awards (with a further 7 nominations)

• 3 Australian Director’s Guild Awards (with a further 1 nomination)

• 3 Kidscreen Awards for Best Companion Website

• Kidscreen Award for Best Teen Series