“I forgot how intense the show was,” Keiynan Lonsdale laughs at the thought of the 14-hour schedule of Dance Academy. “We were all dancers four years ago, but now we had to pretend that we were just as good, if not better. So that was quite a shock. I don’t know about the others, but I wasn’t as good as I was back then! More importantly it was so much fun to get back together with all the cast, because we were all best friends and like a family [during the series].”
Dance Academy is the newest Australian film to be revisited several years after the series finished up in 2013. The story picks up where the series left off, and sees what each character has done since their time studying at the National Academy of Dance. And while there’s clearly a history for those in the film, it’s something that can be enjoyed by new and old fans alike.
“I don’t know how the writer did it, but even without knowing the characters you’re still so invested in them. You’ll watch the movie and then you’ll want to know where it all began,” Keiynan states.
For fans of Keiynan’s character Ollie Lloyd, watching his career since the last episode aired on July 8, 2013 has been quite a ride. During his last moments on Dance Academy he became the face of MTV Australia and New Zealand, interviewing the likes of Miguel, Jessie J, and Disclosure. Serving as the catalyst for his zest for the industry, Lonsdale moved to America and landed the role as Uriah in The Divergent Series: Insurgent. When we speak, he is currently in Vancouver filming for The Flash television series in which he stars as ‘Kid Flash’ (aka Wally West), and what looks to be his biggest achievement to date.
As the Dance Academy series was underway and with each acting opportunity that has come his way, his passion for music has been brewing behind the scenes, that is, until he officially released the single ‘Higher’ in October, 2015. Something he has been working towards since he started writing music when he was 12.
“I’ve been working on music and recording music since I was 15/16 and I’ve been writing from earlier on – It’s just something I’ve always been working on and super passionate about,” he says. “I released the Volume 1 EP about a year and a half ago before I started working on the Flash. Once I started the show my focus was going to be so heavily on that and acting, so I just wanted to make that body of work. Now I’ve come to a place where I’ve figured a balance where I can [do both]. Just to keep creating and share all of it.”
Though Dance Academy ties are still woven in with this project, as fellow cast member Jordan Rodrigues has been a source of motivation for his love of music.
“Jordan was one of the first people I felt confident to sing in front of,” Keiynan admits, before continuing “which is why we started doing covers together. Then eventually I was putting stuff online and I was about 18, and without people knowing me they started saying they really loved my voice. I had put so much work into it because I really sucked in the beginning.
“That’s always what I wanted to do but I wasn’t the strongest singer growing up and I knew that. And so I was very shy and didn’t want to sing in front of anyone, and so I was like I guess with the equipment I can just record and practise and practise. And so I did it every day.”
Listening to Keiynan nail a falsetto in his track ‘Higher’, you’d never know singing was a weak-point for him. But as with most achievements to date, for the star it seems it’s all down to practise, patience and the time being right.
“After my voice had broken I completely lost my falsetto for two or three years and nothing would come out; it was just air. And it was when I was writing ‘Higher’ that I was trying to think of a melody and I found my voice again. It was so right for the track I couldn’t change it,” Keiynan says.
With a new respect for taking time on each project (“I’m just going to keep working away”), Keiynan is set to thrive no matter what he does.
Dance Academy opens in cinemas from April 6. We have a giveaway for the film if you flick to page 10.
Written by Amanda Sherring