Still can’t watch Sammy’s Prix de Fonteyn performance without tearing up, tbh.
Hey, hello. Grab a snack and some tissues because I’m about to take you down an emotional, yet nostalgic, rollercoaster.
The year was 2013 and many of us were thoroughly invested in the sheer drama that was Dance Academy, an iconic Aussie kids’ show about a bunch of teens attending Sydney’s National Dance Academy.
Now, Dance Academy was a little cringey at times — but it had a lot of heart. The characters were fun, extremely relatable and it was incredible to watch them perform all those complicated dance sequences.
And although there were a lot of great characters, one of the best — hands down — had to be Sammy Lieberman. Besides being the sweetest angel to exist, Sammy overcame a bunch of personal struggles throughout the entire series.
Which is why it was absolutely gut-wrenching when his character was killed off at the end of Season 2.
It started off as a seemingly normal episode, with Sammy getting in a morning run before the excitement of the Prix de Fonteyn, a prestigious ballet competition that him and Tara had been training their arses off for.
Time rewinds to the day before, where Sammy — who is performing a contemporary solo — has had a realisation that he dances the best alongside his friends. He proposes that he dances with all of them onstage, which they don’t go along with.
Later that day, Sammy chooses to do a tech rehearsal of his choreography in front of Abigail. As she soon discovers, Sammy’s performance is set against a compilation video of his friends dancing.
It also starts off with an emotional voiceover from Sammy, which reads: “Every dancer knows that being technically perfect isn’t enough. We need to know why we dance. For me, it’s to be connected. I’m inspired by my friends.”
I don’t know about you, but every time I rewatch this, I tear up and get this huge lump in my throat. The choreography, the message, the storyline, the music (“Easy To Love” by The Jezabels, in case you’re wondering) — everything in this performance just makes me SO emotional.
Moving forward, Ms Raine — who is the headmistress of the academy — receives the news about Sammy’s death moments before she’s about to leave to see him and Tara compete.
The other characters find out and are well and truly devastated by the fact that Sammy is gone so suddenly.
They attend his funeral and hold a private, beachside memorial where they band together and reminisce about their friendship with Sammy.
In one last tribute to their friend, Ben — who was subbed in — decides to perform Sammy’s choreography at the Prix de Fonteyn, even though this effectively disqualifies him from the competition.
Tara, Christian, Abigail, Kat, Ollie and Ethan then join Ben onstage, where they perform the rest of Sammy’s performance together.
It’s a heartbreakingly sweet gesture that was fitting for someone who valued their friends as much as Sammy did.
And it’s so damn emotional because Sammy had just started to believe in himself as a dancer and reach his potential. He had earned his family’s acceptance and was well on his way to achieving great things.
Far out, Dance Academy. It’s been seven years since these episodes aired and I’m still not over Sammy’s death.
And honestly, I don’t think I ever will be, which I’m okay with — because at the end of the day, it’s props to the writers for doing such a fantastic job with this series.
If you feel like ugly crying today, here is Sammy’s last performance.
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