Dance Academy: Learning to Fly   First Watch 
April 28, 2016 2:15 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Tara, the audience avatar, joins Australia's top ballet academy.

Tara discovers that she can compensate for being behind on her dancing skills by being behind on her social skills.
posted by tel3path (6 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This show is the BEST. I am so tickled to see it here!
posted by glitter at 5:57 PM on April 28, 2016

Oh my god, me too. I watched the entire first season in a weekend one time when my husband was out of town. That's been a few years, though; this is a great excuse for a re-watch!
posted by something something at 6:04 PM on April 28, 2016

Ooh Abigail, what a bitch. But that's her MO throughout the rest of the series: inappropriate disclosure of true stuff.

OTOH, she's also truthful to Tara when she gives her the tough love talk about how nobody's going to hand her anything. I've seen this talk come out like a dance movie cliche elsewhere - the godawful Flesh & Bone, for example, which I just. could. not. watch - and only now as I'm writing this does it occur to me that The Tough Love Talk is a dance movie trope. It came out as completely natural in this show, which is why I like it so much.

Kat: plays loud music to warm up the class, eats candy bars = not serious.

I thought Tara's solo sequence was narm, and it seems like throughout the series if there's any narm it's always around her. I like her, but she's probably my least favourite character because of this and also because I find her lacking in energy somehow. Or maybe it's because she doesn't seem to open her mouth at all when she talks, a mannerism a voice teacher called "ventriloquist"; I'm always bothered by people who do this.

Still, Tara definitely checks the boxes for an audience avatar: dances at the level of a 12-year-old (which is probably the best any of the viewers can do, if that) but has HEART and a deep love for the art form (also probably true for the viewers, otherwise why would we be watching).

I also have to say objectively that Tara isn't as twee as she could have been in the hands of lesser writers. She behaves more or less like an actual teenager.

I also like the group dynamic setting in early. Sam, who you hardly notice, is the one reading lips to see what the teachers are saying to Tara, and Kat is the one who rushes in to save her ass, and the teachers are visibly relieved to have a face saving way out.
posted by tel3path at 2:53 AM on April 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

And actually, speaking of the b-word I just used to describe Abigail - IIRC in all the plot points throughout the entire series that involve dirty tricks - like, stuff that does or could do real damage or breaks boundaries in awful ways - the perpetrators are nearly always female.

I was going to say "relational aggression" but then I remembered one such thing between males.

And then I was going to say "all the plot points that involve dirty tricks" but then I remembered one thing of that ilk between males also.

This is different from "honest" fighting/squabbling/tension, which happens reasonably often given the pressure cooker the students live in. E.g. Abigail does not get along with Kat, and warns Tara off making friends with her if she wants to be seen as serious - but I'm pretty sure that's Abigail's honest opinion. It's not nice, but it's also not dishonest or underhanded, etc.

It's also different from more-or-less friendly teasing, like the mixup in the dressing room this episode.

I'd like to keep a running count of this, actually.

1. female -> female: Abigail reports Tara for breaking bounds in an effort to get her disqualified from auditioning.
posted by tel3path at 2:04 PM on April 29, 2016

But we do see later in the series that Abigail is also just not a very nice girl, too, not just forthright or whatever.

I think Kat might be my favourite character - I wouldn't put money on it, but I'm pretty sure we see her at least once every episode eating a bag of chips or something.
posted by glitter at 5:15 PM on April 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm a few episodes in.

I have complicated feelings about Abigail. For a lot of her scenes, my reaction is roughly, "Haha, that was awesome!...also unnecessarily cruel and pretty transparently compensating for her own insecurity...but the face she made!...I'm a bad person."
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 6:29 AM on August 7, 2019

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