Yael Brender chatted to the stars of Dance Academy ahead of its World Premiere at Event Cinema George St yesterday.
“I had so much fun making the movie!” enthused Dance Academy star Xenia Goodwin. “It was lots more fun than making the TV show, but very different. I was older, and I really decided that what I wanted to do, which was to be a really great actress, and working on that was amazing.”
Goodwin started playing her character Tara Webster on the series when she was just 16, and she says that the experience has completely changed her.
“I could do this for the rest of my life now and that’s really, really exciting. There’s a scene in the film where I have to dance at my fullest at my capacity and act at my fullest capacity at the same moment. It was the most challenging thing and I hated it while I was filming it but at the end of it I was very proud. I’m exceptionally happy with how it turned out.”
Alicia Banit, former Neighbours star, said that her favourite moment from shooting the movie was going to New York, but that she also loved being back with the cast after their time apart. Her sassy and confident character Kat Karamazov has come a long way since the series started in 2010.
“Being back with my family, being back with everyone all together, that was amazing and I loved it. For me, the main difference between shooting for TV and for film is the amount of time we had to shoot certain scenes, especially the dance sequences. Usually, if it’s a one minute dance scene, you can shoot it in one or two hours, but for the movie we’d spend a whole day shooting a dance. That’s a massive difference and it was absolutely exhausting.”
Banit said that she is “thrilled” with how the film turned out: “Every single character in it is amazing. It’s incredible…All of the feels come out, every character is funny and heartbreaking and heat warning and everything you want it to be.”
For Dena Kaplan, the actor behind the strong, determined Abigail Armstrong, going from the small screen to the big screen involved a massive change of pace.
“When you’re filming a series, we have 26 episodes and we shoot for six or seven months and now all of a sudden we’re restricted to three months and travelling to New York City…So it was intense, sometimes shooting six days a week and learning routines. I loved every minute of it.”
“It’s the best job in the world. I love it so much. I think it was a bit of a pinch-me moment, being in New York City and standing in the middle of Times Square. It was ridiculous, I couldn’t quite believe it. I’ve been dancing and acting since I was a little kid, so I’m just doing what I love for a job. It’s pretty magical, I’m pretty lucky and very blessed.”
Tara Morice, star of Strictly Ballroom and Razzle Dazzle returns as Miss Raine, ballet teacher and mentor in Dance Academy. The Candy and McLeod’s Daughters actress says that retuning to a character she’d already played is a unique experience.
“It was an enjoyable and strange experience to go from a TV show to a movie. It felt like the family getting back together. We’ve all being doing it for such a long time now. For me, I’ve watched all the kids grow up. Suddenly, they’re blossoming into these young adults.”
“Sam, our writer, works in the kids’ characteristics to their characters, which was great to see. It’s amazing to see all the fans here. Having young fans, who are completely obsessed, is so great.”
“I love the film,” Morice added. “I think they’ve done such a good job, it’s so beautiful. I love seeing dance on film; I think it’s a great medium to see dance and I love the way they’ve shot it. Over the years, people have gotten so much better at shooting dance.”
Exceptionally handsome newcomer Nic Westaway, of Home and Away fame, said he was welcomed into Dance Academy family with open arms. “I’m not the biggest role in there, but the days I got to spend with these guys was absolutely incredible. There’s a lot of history between all of them, so the energy on set is magical.”
“It’s an incredible movie. I’m amazing at what the director has created and very proud. My favourite moment was probably Alicia Banit’s character and myself, when we have characters within our characters. That day of shooting involved a lot of green screen and fake cast and crew, real cast and crew. It was very confusing but it was a very fun day to try and get right.”
Westaway advises audiences to just sit back, relax, and enjoy: “It’s an adventure for all the characters. It’s kind of a where-are-they-now of each characters’ journey since the series and they cross paths and you can just see the history. One glance and you can see these characters reconnect instantly. It’s just electric on screen. You’ll love it.”
Dance Academy hits cinemas on April 6. Watch the trailer here.