Private Project


A documentary by Lynne Spencer

Can injury destroy a life’s passion? This is a question that affects every dancer, performer (or athlete) who is completely devoted to a single pursuit and is faced with an injury that threatens that very way of life.

The documentary film “Broken" is an extraordinarily intimate portrait of Simone Orlando, Ballet BC's lead dancer for twelve years. During rehearsals for a new ballet, Simone suffered an injury that was so severe; she could hardly walk, let alone dance. Hiding her affliction with painkillers, she struggled on, but an MRI made it all too evident that hip surgery was required. “All the work and all the years, and for it to suddenly just slip away, it wasn't acceptable,” said Ms. Orlando. Simone fought for the chance to make a comeback and the film features absorbing interviews, intimate access to doctor's appointments and stunning never-before-seen photos and footage of both rehearsals and Ballet BC's stage performances and behind the scenes politics.

This film is a one of a kind study of the devotion and dedication that artists, performers and even athletes and musicians bring to their vocation, and what happens when fate intervenes to threaten their life’s work – and their identity.

  • Lynne Spencer
  • Lynne Spencer
  • Tim Spencer
  • Simone Orlando
    Key Cast
  • John Alleyne
  • Chystal Pite
  • Jiri Kylian
  • Elizabeth Rusch
    Story Editor
  • Prof. Sally Maitlis
    Supporting Cast
  • Janet Smith
    Supporting Cast
  • Sylvain Senez
    Supporting Cast
  • Jones Henry
    Supporting Cast
  • Donald Sales
    Supporting Cast
  • Matt Powell
    Supporting Cast
  • Tess Orlando
    Supporting Cast
  • Gretchen McLennan
    Supporting Cast
  • Dr. Nelson Greidanus
    Supporting Cast
  • Lynne Spencer
  • Russ Gorsline
    Sound Editor
  • Chris Borges-Silva
    Colour Correction
  • Tobin Stokes
  • Owen Underhill
  • Michael Bushnell
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 8 minutes 8 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 30, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    45,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Shooting Format:
    Canon 5D
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Whistler Film Festival 2016 (WFF)
    December 2, 2016
    World Premiere
  • Festival International du Film sur l'Art (FIFA)
    March 25, 2017
  • Canadian Film Festival (CFF)
    March 25, 2017
  • Contact Dance Film Festival
    United States
    April 29, 2017
    US Premiere
Director Biography - Lynne Spencer

Lynne Spencer is an independent film director whose career started in the mainstream industry in 1993 on features like Double Jeopardy and Elf. Lynne began directing in 2005: creating short films, video for dance, and commercial work for Ballet BC and lululemon. Her work has been presented at the Joyce SoHo New York, Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Whistler Film Festival and Scotia Bank Dance Center. The documentary Broken is Lynne’s debut feature film.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

In 2008, when Ballet BC hired me as a freelance cinematographer, I was deeply interested to go behind the scenes at a professional dance company. I danced for many years and always wondered how challenging a career in dance would be. At the time, Simone Orlando was Ballet BC’s unofficial prima ballerina, dancing the lead in several ballets. She had also begun choreographing new ballets for the company in preparation for the end of her dancing career known as “dancer’s transition.” I was in the midst of a transition myself. I was a new mother and had left a 10-year career in film and television to work as a freelance photographer and videographer. Curious about her work and her transition, I asked Simone if I could shoot a personal photo essay about her and a short film. She agreed.
I photographed and filmed Simone for about a year and half when an opportunity came up to exhibit the work. One afternoon I invited her to review the final edits for the exhibition. Out of the blue, she told me then that her doctor said she needed to have a total hip replacement, her dance career was over and her career as a choreographer was in jeopardy too.
Simone recounted the whole story from the time she first injured her hip; details about the initial injury, being replaced as lead dancer, hip surgery and rehabilitation, coming back to perform way too soon in order to hang on to her position in the company and having to hide great pain and suffering. Simone was devastated by the sudden loss of her ability to dance and the uncertainty of her future. She explained that her situation was not unique, and that this sort of thing was very common among dancers. But no one ever talked about it.
I was totally surprised. How could I not have noticed that she was working and dancing in pain the whole time I photographed her? We had become quite close, yet she had managed to keep it a secret. She hid her problem from everyone.
Fascinated by what she was going through and believing there was much more too it, I asked Simone if I could make a documentary about it. I also had a feeling that the story was far from over.
While Simone’s story is an extreme example of what happens to so many dancers, the film resonates powerfully for all those – dancers, musicians, performers and even athletes – who have lost their greatest love through injury.
"Broken" premiered at the Whistler Film Festival 2016 where is acquired Canadian distribution through IndieCan Entertainment. “Broken” is currently on the festival circuit and has been officially selected for 2 festivals in March 2016 - FIFA (Festival International du Film Sur L’Art) in Montreal and CFF (The Canadian Film Festival) in Toronto, Canada. The film will continue to be showcased at festivals throughout the world in 2017.