Black Ballerina: The new show coming to Winnipeg exploring identity through dance

Winnipeggers will have the chance to see a one-person performance this weekend that explores identity, ancestry and trying to fit in through the art of dance.

Beginning on Friday, Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers will be presenting ‘Black Ballerina’ – a show choreographed and performed by Syreeta Hector.

For Hector, the upcoming Winnipeg performances are extra exciting as they are her second time performing the show in front of a live, in-theatre audience. The dance artist has been working on the piece since before the pandemic.

“I’m thrilled to be sharing this work with real humans in real form now,” Hector said in an interview on Tuesday.

“It’s so exciting, and I’m just thrilled to be going to the west of Canada to share the work.”

The show is a full-length, solo performance. However, Hector initially intended for it to be a shorter piece.

“Then after I performed the shorter work, I thought, ‘I have to keep going forward with these ideas. I have to keep going forward and creating to make a full-length work,’” she said.

She said the idea for the show stemmed from her desire to know more about her ancestry.

“I personally, being Mi’kmaq, French Acadian, Black, Loyalist didn’t know a lot about my family history, so I wanted to actually research that and do my masters in looking at my ancestry and connecting it to my dance education, being trained in classical ballet,” Hector said. “So, that was the start of ‘Black Ballerina.’ That was the seed, that major research paper.”

From there, Hector wanted to explore her own experiences being a classically trained ballet dancer.

“What does that mean in the world today? And how do I navigate all of these different identities in ways that we try to fit in,” she said.

Hector said she sees ‘Black Ballerina’ as a proposal for a conversation about what is happening in the world today and how we can do better in terms of representation.

“I hope that I am able to provide a range of emotion in ‘Black Ballerina,’ she said.

“I hope that sometimes we can feel like, oh my gosh, this is a terrible thing that has happened and we need to do better, but also I hope the audience feels this quest and thrust of inspiration and this energy to move forward and to really consider where we are and how we can efficiently and effectively change things.”

‘Black Ballerina’ runs from Friday to Sunday at the Rachel Browne Theatre. It will be the first time the show is performed west of Toronto.

Tickets can be purchased online.

- With files from CTV’s Nicole Dube.