By Sam Dallas

High-energy teen drama Dance Academy has sprung into production, with shooting beginning in Sydney today.

The ABC3 drama, partly-based on the co-creators’ real-life experiences, was a hit for the network last year and was nominated for an AWGIE Award (screenwriter Greg Waters).

The Werner Film Productions series is ABC3’s highest-rated drama and was the most visited ABC3 website during its first broadcast run in May/June/July last year.

Another 26 episodes have been commissioned from ABC and German broadcaster ZDF, with funding again coming from ZDF Enterprises, ZDF, ABC, Screen Australia, Screen NSW and the Australian Children’s Television Foundation.

“Our cast have been working hard in ‘ballet boot camp’ in preparation for the demanding shoot ahead,” Melbourne-based producer and co-creator Joanna Werner said in a statement, of the six-month shoot.

Two new characters – Grace Whitney (Issi Durant, So You Think You Can Dance) and Ben Tickle (Thomas Lacey, Blue Heelers) – join the show playing a dancer and new “class-hottie” respectively.

Series two follows Tara Webster in her second year at the Academy, who has the goal of representing Australia at the world’s most prestigious ballet competition – the Prix de Fonteyn. But perhaps she should be more focused on just surviving her second year – having climbed to the top in her first year, in dance, in life and in love.

Cast members returning include Tara (Xenia Goodwin), Abigail (Dena Kaplan, I Am You), Sammy (Tom Green, The Ground Beneath), Christian (Jordan Rodrigues, Home And Away), Ethan (Tim Pocock, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and Miss Raine (Tara Morice).

There will be regular guest appearances from Kip Gamblin (Home And Away), who plays dance teacher Zach, Keiynan Lonsdale (Fame: The Musical) who plays third-year student Ollie and Brooke Harman (Rake), who plays dance teacher Saskia Duncan.

Series two is expected to be broadcast next year, on both ABC1 and ABC3.

For more information on the show, visit the official interactive website.

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