Thomas Lacey — An Interview

Vertigo Team

Recently, the dance-lovers at Vertigo flocked to the premier of ‘Dance Academy: The Movie’, and one was lucky enough to score some time to chat with Thomas Lacey, the actor behind everyone’s favourite character: Ben Tickle.

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Vertigo: How was it reuniting with everyone on set? Was the experience similar to a high school reunion?

Thomas Lacey: Yeah for sure. Of course we have kept in contact, and ‘Dance Academy’ is always going to be a part of our lives. It was such a fun series so we were always going to have that for sure. Hearing that the film was going ahead was amazing news, so we were very keen to get back together and hang out and work together again.

V: As a close cast, what was it like working together after so long?

TL: It was great but always comfortable. I was always confident going in because we had the same crew that have travelled with us almost from Series One. Our director, Jeffrey Walker, did the first series of ‘Dance Academy’ with us, almost seven years ago — and he was with us for our journey with the movie as well. So we’ve gone full circle. It’s definitely comfortable and confident to go on set.

V: Your character, Ben Tickle, is known throughout the TV show to have the energy of a puppy dog. Is that something you share? How similar are your characters?

TL: We have a lot of similar traits, that’s for sure. Of course there are some bits that are the same and some that aren’t. Ben is such an eager kind of dude and I guess I share that sort of thing. More so myself than Ben, I would say: life’s so short so I believe in making every moment count. I guess I live up to that aspect of Ben as well.

V: What kind of emotions do you think the movie bought for fans  that grew up watching this show in their teens?

TL: Hugely up and down, that’s for sure! I think the fans will be really happy, but also those that haven’t seen the TV show will love and understand the film as well.

V: What was it like on set?

TL: We have too much fun on set — so much that it can get in the way of filming! We’re all so close and understand each other, so we have the best time on set. We understand people’s privacy with big scenes that we have coming up as well. It’s ‘Dance Academy’: We all grew up with it and we all love it.

V: How much dance training goes into the amazing choreography in the film?

TL: We had about 3 weeks before we started shooting just for dance and routines. We always wanted to be on top of learning choreography, because we knew shooting schedule was tight and, of course, we were going to New York. We’d also have been on set shooting one day, and then that night have to go and learn a routine. We do have one routine that is performed throughout the whole film, and evolves over the duration of the movie. We really had to knuckle down for that particular one and work out exactly how we were going to portray it.

V: You’ve trained as a dancer for a long time, how important is dancing to your identity?

TL: I’ve been dancing since I was two, so I can’t even remember my first class. I started training in ballet, tap and jazz and then I moved onto learning hip hop, contemporary and theatre style. I’ve also done six years of competitive ballroom dancing, so basically everything except for Irish dancing. Dancing is second nature to me now. I can go months on end without doing a class — not that that’s good — but it’s always gong to be a part of me and my physical structure.

V: And as a dancer yourself did you find yourself resonating with the experiences that are depicted in the movie and the show? Do you think it mirrors your own?

TL: To a certain extent some aspects resonate, but everyone has their own journey and path. I never went to a full time dance school so in that way my experience differs. I do think a lot of dancers can relate to the show and the movie.

V: Did you come across any fans shooting in New York City?

TL: We definitely had some fans. It’s pretty surreal being on the other side of the world and having fans in Times Square walk past and notice we were all from ‘Dance Academy’. It’s pretty special to be a part of that.

V: Is there talk about a sequel?

TL: Look, we all hope for that! Honestly I don’t know anything about that, of course I’d love to do something again but who knows. Hopefully one day.

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*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Dance Academy is in cinemas from April 6.