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Review: Broken, Salford Quays

Reviewer Jade Cayton-Toole from Swinton won SalfordOnline’s ticket competition for Broken, a large-scale, free to view, live part-dance/part-film outdoor performance on the MediaCityUK Piazza on Saturday 16 July.

The scene was set at MediaCityUK; the large stage was waiting for the dancers to enter and a substantial crowd had gathered, eager to see this free performance.

People of all ages were stood waiting in anticipation – some had been clever enough to bring camping chairs – and for once the weather was on Salford’s side.

Thanks to Quays Culture, the crowd were about to enjoy a thrilling multimedia ride into the shifting centre of the earth.

For the next hour or so, the crowd developed and people watched in awe as the epic scenes unfolded. Silence, which is rare for large crowds, filled the atmosphere as we stood transfixed at the spectacle.

'Broken' crowd packs out Piazza at MediaCityUK

‘Broken’ crowd packs out Piazza at MediaCityUK

Production company Motionhouse specialises in large scale outdoor performances, however they revealed to us that Broken was devised as an indoor dance piece.

Artistic Director Kevin Finnan had to adapt it for the outdoors, which included completely changing the first five minutes of the piece the day before due to lighting issues.

The original opening scene needed a complete blackout, which wasn’t possible at 9.30pm, outdoors by the Manchester Ship Canal on Salford Quays.

Finnan also told SalfordOnline.com afterwards that he felt placing the show outdoors changed the feel of the performance altogether – the standing audience felt more connected to the performers and the themes, and the show grew in intensity as the skies grew darker.

The fluidity of movement and the exhilarating film backdrop created a mesmerising performance from start to finish.

Athletic and poetic, the choreography was powerful and enhanced by the creative scenes projected onto the stage. The audience were continually amazed by dancers hanging from bars, swinging around poles, dancing on stilts and falling from heights.

The performers took us on a journey which represents our relationship to the earth, starting with the big bang which created our planet.

Other scenes took us deep underground, into the treetops and finally into a crumbling urban metropolis.

The amazing ending scene was literally earth-shattering, as the dancers physically pushed themselves to the limits to survive the digital earthquake.

When I spoke to the Artistic Director after the show and asked what had inspired him, it was easy to relate the scenes to his various stimuli – fossils and life underground, the Chilean miners’ accident and his travel experiences around the world.

I was amazed at the energy of the dancers, which truly brought the story to life.

The powerful choreography was beautifully exerted, especially within the impressive duets throughout the piece.

Watching, I often wondered how hard they had to train to gain the necessary strength and stamina required to dance in Broken.

The newest member of the company confirmed my expectations when she told me they all underwent hardcore training, often six days a week.

This was a wonderful free event from Quays Culture, which has opened up contemporary dance theatre to a wider audience.

Most people stayed for the entire 70 minutes and I think many were surprised at how much they enjoyed the performance. I left feeling small, humble and insignificant in an ever-changing world.

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Tom is SalfordOnline.com's News Editor and community co-ordinator.