In 2007 Simone Orlando, a lead dancer with the BC Ballet, suffered a severe hip injury. She was unable to walk, but continued to dance until the pain became too great for her to continue. Broken is a window into the world of the ballet and how it responds to injury.
The title Broken carries a double meaning. Most obviously, it refers to Orlando’s injured body that is the catalyst for the film. It also refers to the ballet community and refusal to accept that pain is not a normal state of being. The idea that dancers who cannot push through pain are weak and somehow lesser is commonly held. As a result, those who are injured receive very little support through their recovery from the community.
Orlando’s story is told largely through an array of talking heads; from dancers, company management and arts journalists to academics, psychologists and physiotherapists. Each provides insight into this “broken” system as they flesh out Orlando’s story. However, even at only 68 minutes, Broken would benefit from a tighter edit, as many of the people interviewed express the same point multiple times.
It’s a solid entry to an important topic, but Broken would have fared better as a TV special.
Is Broken essential festival viewing?
If you are familiar with the ballet community, Broken holds some interest, but is nothing new. For those outside the community, the film provides a peak into the dance world that is rarely shown to outsiders with such unflinching honesty. It’s not essential, but still worth your while depending on your connections to dance.