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Dance Academy (Series) - TV Tropes


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From left to right: Abigail, Sammy, Ben, Tara, Christian, Kat, and Grace

"I always knew in another life, I could fly. So that's why in this life, I dance."

Tara Webster

Dance Academy is an Australian teen TV show that follows Tara Webster and her time at the National Academy of Dance in Sydney. The story also focuses on Kat Karamakov (Tara’s best friend), Ethan (Kat’s half brother), Sammy Lieberman (Kat and Tara’s friend), Christian Reed (Sammy’s roommate) and Abigail Armstrong (Tara’s roommate and biggest competition).

Ever since Tara was a little girl, she knew she wanted to dance. In her hometown, she is known as “the dancer”. So when she is 15, she decides to audition for a position at the prestigious National Academy of Dance. When she is accepted, she thinks her new life at the academy will be spectacular. However, it doesn’t take her long to discover that there is much more to surviving at the academy than just dancing. She soon becomes painfully aware of how far behind she is in her ballet training and that there is a long way to go if she wants to become a principal dancer.

The series became most-watched drama ever aired on its home channel ABC3 during its first broadcast in 2010. Season 2 premiered in 2012, and Season 3 premiered in 2013. The show started airing in the U.S. on TeenNick in February 2012. The Movie came out in 2017.

  • Alliterative Name: Kat Karamakov, Abigail Armstrong.
  • Artistic License – Education: Miss Raine, strangely, does not fire Saskia for injuring Tara, instead making her apologize (which she refuses to do), despite the fact that it's a termination-worthy offense in Australia. Saskia does end up quitting anyway when her students harass her for what she did to Tara.
  • Back for the Finale: Okay, so Ethan came back in the penultimate episode, not the finale, but his reappearance at the end of season 2 still fills this trope.
  • Bad Luck Charm: The Macbeth solo is said to be one, and Ollie has many unlucky experiences when he's assigned it. It's subverted when he gets a contract.
  • Big Eater: Kat, though it's a more realistic portrayal of one.
  • Coitus Interruptus: Ben and Tara get interrupted by the hotel housekeeping service before they could get started. Unsurprisingly, it killed the moment and the relationship.
  • Coming-Out Story: Sammy's about halfway there.
  • Continuity Nod: Kat baking when she's sad, Tara finding Four Leaf Clovers before an exam and Tara having lied to Ethan about losing a bracelet are all referenced in season 2.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Christian's mother.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen:
    • Abigail is initially quite a horrible person, but Sammy's persistence and support of her eventually makes her much nicer and she eventually falls in love with him despite her claims that she "[doesn't] do emotions."
    • Christian starts off very cold and distant from everyone and isn't too keen to make friends. Tara, Kat and, again, Sammy all play a role in making him a warmer person.
    • Depending on how her reaction and subsequent behaviour in the last episode of series 2 is to be interpreted, Grace may be in for this in series 3. After watching her dance The Red Shoes, Abigail comments that Grace has "never felt a genuine human emotion"; by the end of the competition, though, it's clear that she has.
      • It takes until the end of the last season, but falling for Ben, Tara's fall, and quitting dance to travel the world finally defrosts Grace.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In season 2, the first years dislike the second years for focusing more on relationships than ballet. Because of this, they decide to flour bomb the second years and then squirt them with water pistols in the middle of the night.
  • Disappeared Dad: Christian's father.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Abigail and Ollie were never very close due to both having dated Sammy, but Sammy's death makes them much closer, to the point where they're best friends in season 3.
  • Frenemy: Abigail mentions that Kat is hers. Abigail and Tara could also qualify.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In the class rankings that come out at the end of series 1, episode 2. The camera pans from the top to the bottom very quickly, but by looking closely, we can learn that Tara's first-year class at the Academy apparently contains students with the names "Marie Taglioni" (the name of a nineteenth-century ballet dancer who is often credited with being the first person to dance on pointe) and "Samantha Strauss" (the show's main screenwriter).
  • Funny Foreigner: Petra, German exchange student.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Arguably Saskia jealous of Tara which leads to her pushing Tara so far that she cracks one of her vertebrae.
    • Abigail tends to acts out in jealousy.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Abigail, of all characters, gives this to Christian about Kat.

    Abigail: If you break her heart like you did Tara's, I'll hurt you.

  • In Medias Res: Episode 13 of season 2 starts with Tara in Miss Raine's office after her broken back has been found out.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: At the end of the series, Tara's narration is revealed to be part of a book she wrote about her experiences at the National Academy of Dance.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Near the end of season 3, what Saskia says to Tara about being a professional dancer.

    Saskia: That's fantastic, love it all you like. But, being a professional is about what you do on your worst night—when it's your 100th performance, the orchestra's playing too fast, your costume falls off. You can't just stop and turn to the audience and say, "Sorry, no magic."

  • Killed Off for Real: Sammy in season 2
  • The Lightfooted: Most characters are this, given that they're training to be dancers.
  • Love Dodecahedron: As per the norm for a Teen Drama.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Happens to Sammy when one of the football players visiting the academy asks for his number. Subverted later though.
  • Mood Whiplash: Tara goes from loudly annoucing she's going to make out with Ben to complaining about how Miss Raine dealt with her back being broken by Saskia.
  • Pair the Spares: Kat and Ben in the movie.
  • Practice Kiss: Tara practices kissing Sammy, so she'll be prepared to kiss Ethan, with Kat coaching them along.
  • Put on a Bus: Ethan, on a bus to Barcelona.
  • Technician vs. Performer: Explored and partially deconstructed with Tara and Abigail's ongoing rivalry. Tara is the Performer, and Abigail is the Technician. As a show about dance, it also explores the topic of physical potential: Tara has an idea body type for ballet, and Abigail doesn't. Originally the Technician Vs Performer trope is played very straight, with the narrative being in Tara's favor. But as the show wears on, it explores the other side, developing Abigail's characters as a Defrosting Ice Queen, showing her more sympathetically. The trope is eventually deconstructed, exploring the heartache Abigail experiences—she works so hard, sometimes pushing herself past the point of what's healthy, all because she desperately wants it, but in contrast with naturals like Tara, that's only barely enough.
  • Terrible Interviewees Montage: For the musical in season 2, Abigail says she's always wanted to be the mean judge on a panel.
  • Their First Time: Tara and Ben decided to have sex, in season 3 but then they get walked in on by the cleaning lady.
  • Unusual Euphemism: When Kat and Sammy are talking about him being gay and liking Christian.
  • Wham Line:

    Christian: The ambulance came and it didn't... Sammy died on the way to the hospital.

  • Will They or Won't They?:
    • Tara and Ethan for the first half of season 1, Tara and Christian for the second half.
    • Sometimes applies to Tara and Ben in season 3 also, as well as Tara and Christian.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: A major aspect of Grace's MO. Example: destroying Tara's and her own shoes, to convince Tara Abigail did it.

Dance Academy TV Review | Common Sense Media

A Lot or a Little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

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.

Community Reviews

KMuru Adult

November 6, 2019

age 11+

1 person found this helpful.

Sara M. Adult

July 7, 2018

age 10+


I thought this show was so good to anyone who thinks kids can’t watch this show are probably the people who won’t let there kids watch ‘full house’ or anything on Disney channel

This title has:

Great messages

Great role models

1 person found this helpful.

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?

TV Details

  • Premiere date: February 20, 2012
  • Cast: Alicia Banit, Dena Kaplan, Xenia Goodwin
  • Network: TeenNick
  • Genre: Drama
  • Topics: Arts and Dance, Friendship, High School
  • Character Strengths: Communication
  • TV rating: TV-PG
  • Last updated: September 25, 2022

Movies and series similar to Dance Academy with descriptions of similarities

Fifteen-year-old Tara Webster is selected for the Sydney National Dance Academy - the best dance school in the country. Together with her, her friends Kat, Abigail, Sam, Ethan and Christian enter the Academy.

Young people are sincerely devoted to the art of dance, and joint training contributes not only to their close communication, but also to the emergence of romantic relationships between some of them.

Tara falls in love with Ethan, the half-brother of her best friend Kat, who falls for almost all the girls of the academy; Kat herself becomes a good friend of Sam's, and Sam takes a liking to Abigail. Friendship, love and dancing go side by side with the main characters and help them overcome all life's troubles...

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Series Dance Academy (Australia, 2010) watch online


Dance Academy, 2010 - 2013

About the series Cast Seasons (3)

The series tells about the life of six teenagers who entered the National Dance Academy in Sydney.

Learn more