Interrogating race, identity, and classical ballet: Citadel + Compagnie presents Syreeta Hector’s full-length solo, Black Ballerina

Syreeta Hector opens Citadel LIVE, Citadel + Compagnie’s 2020/21 season, with a free livestreamed performance on November 27, 2020

TORONTO, ON  Citadel + Compagnie is thrilled to announce the first performance in its 2020/21 season, Citadel LIVE: Syreeta Hector’s full-length solo, Black Ballerina, a dynamic, explosive work that explores Hector’s Blackness and Indigeneity in relationship to classical ballet.

The work will be performed at The Citadel: Ross Centre for Dance through Citadel + Compagnie’s new livestream series that allows live dance performances to shine through the digital space. By capturing live performances with the expertise of Oscar-nominated Barbara Willis Sweete, a director specializing in livestreaming, and the support of a professional three-camera crew, audience members are able to truly experience the ephemeral nature of dance through the screen.

“Syreeta’s work is bold and nuanced and we are so excited to present this full-length incarnation of Black Ballerina through Citadel LIVE,” says Citadel + Compagnie Artistic Director, Laurence Lemieux. “It is a perfect fit for the intimate nature of our new livestream format.”

Black Ballerina explores how the minority body is seen on stage and how the context of white culture has influenced the relationship Hector has to her own Blackness and Indigeneity. “Ideas of systemic racism and frameworks of ballet are not easy things to discuss, but dialogue must be generated in order to create change,” says Hector.

As a work-in-progress, the solo gained recognition at the SummerWorks Festival in 2019 where it won the Stratford Festival Lab Award for Research and Creation. The condensed version of the work was also performed as part of Citadel Dance Mix 2019 and received a nomination for a Dora Mavor Moore Award. As one of The Citadel’s first creative incubator artists, Hector has expanded upon this solo and created a full-length work.

Audiences will be invited to send in their questions for a moderated artist Q&A immediately following the performance, hosted by Laurence Lemieux.

Please note: All Public Health guidelines will be followed through the production of Citadel LIVE performances.

Download the press release: PDF

Black Ballerina
November 27, 2020 at 7pm
Limited time replay available until November 28 at midnight
Choreographer and performer: Syreeta Hector
Presented by Citadel + Compagnie through Citadel LIVE
The livestream is free at 

Based on Syreeta Hector’s relationship to race, and her experiences in classical ballet, Black Ballerina is a powerful exploration of the nuances within one’s identity, and the unconscious ways that we all try to fit in. Performed by Hector, Black Ballerina brings an unbridled energy to the inugural show in the Citadel LIVE livestream series. The 2019 performance of an earlier version of Black Ballerina was nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Award.

Choreographer and dancer: Syreeta Hector 
Movement Dramaturg: Seika Boye and Dedra McDermott
Outside Eye: J. Adam Brown 
Lighting Design: Noah Feaver 
Stage Management: Helin Gungoren
Sound Design: Germaine Liu and Mark Zurawinski
Music from: Nick Baker’s Weird Creatures, Marie Davidson, Richard Reed Parry, A Tribe Called Red, Kendrick Lamar 
Technical/Set Design: Elissa Horscroft, Tristan Goethel, Mary Spyrakis: Thank you to Canadian Stage
Costume Alterations: Kleanthi Markakis
Live Stream Director: Barbara Willis Sweete


Syreeta Hector / Photo by David Leyes

Syreeta Hector (choreographer + dancer) 

Syreeta Hector is a dance artist and educator in Toronto, Ontario. As a highly accomplished performer, Syreeta has worked for internationally recognized companies like Adelheid Dance Projects, Danny Grossman Dance Company, Political Movement, and Toronto Dance Theatre. She is a proud graduate of The National Ballet Schools Teacher Training Program, The School of Toronto Dance Theatre, and has achieved her Master of Arts in Dance Studies from York University.  

Her work called Black Ballerina” focuses on the dualities within one’s identity, along with Syreetas blackness and indigeneity in relationship to classical ballet. This short work in progress solo gained recognition at the SummerWorks Festival in 2019. Here, the piece won the Stratford Festival Lab Award for Research and Creation. The condensed version of the piece was also performed at the Citadel Dance Mix 2019. Here, the performance was nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Award.  

The development of the full-length version of Black Ballerina” is taking place through the support of Citadel + Compagnie, Canadian Stage, and the Kaaitheatre. Syreeta is currently one of the Luminato Artists in Residence for the 2020-2021 season. 

Barbara Willis Sweete / Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann

Barbara Willis Sweete, livestream director

Barbara Willis Sweete is an Oscar-nominated film industry veteran and Founding Partner of Rhombus Media, specialists in Performing Arts Films. Now with Artemis Pictures, Barbara produces and directs films and tv programs in all genres. Her work has been shown at major international film festivals and has received many top awards, including an Oscar nomination, four Emmys, three Grammy nominations and many Geminis, Genies and Canadian Screen Awards.

Barbara has directed  several notable dance films and has collaborated with such choreographers as  James Kudelka (Four Seasons, Firebird), Mark Morris (Falling Down Stairs, Dido and Aeneas), Lar Lubovich (Fandango), Doug Varone (The Planets), Mark Godden (The Tale of the Magic Flute), Santee Smith (I Lost My Talk) and  David Earle (Romeos and Juliets).

Over the last decade, Barbara has directed more than 30 Live in HD Operas that were transmitted live from New York’s Metropolitan Opera to 2600 cinemas in 76 countries.


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Photos of Syreeta Hector / Photos by Jeremy Mimnagh

About Citadel + Compagnie

Citadel + Compagnie is a dance organization with its home, The Citadel: Ross Centre for Dance, embedded within the Regent Park community of downtown Toronto. Through its creation, curation and cultivation of contemporary dance, Citadel + Compagnie’s mission is to make a significant and lasting contribution to dance in Canada. Led by Artistic Director, Laurence Lemieux, the company’s vision is for exceptional dance to reach diverse communities and audiences and foster ongoing dialogue between artists and the public. 

The organization supports the artistic activities of its dance company; its performing arts series, Bright Nights; its dance fest, Night Shift; its training program, the Citadel Dance Program; and its residency program.

Citadel + Compagnie’s curated performing arts series, Bright Nights, cultivates Canadian contemporary dance, showcasing artists from diverse backgrounds, including emerging, Francophone and Indigenous choreographers. Night Shift, Citadel + Compagnie’s late-night dance fest, furthers this cultivation by making space for the work of boundary pushing artists exploring and practicing within all forms of dance. In 2020/21, Citadel + Compagnie launched Citadel LIVE, an innovative livestream series that allows live dance performances to shine through the digital space.

Under Lemieux’s leadership, Citadel + Compagnie has had a marked impact on its immediate community and fosters creative practice through its new umbrella Residency Program. Through its Creative Incubator Pilot Project, four artists and organizations—Syreeta Hector, Naishi Wang, adelheid and Nova Dance—have been invited to explore and expand their artistic projects at The Citadel. Additionally, The Citadel hosts KasheDance as its company-in-residence, wind in the leaves collective as its presenter-in-residence, and Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre as its lead community partner.

The Citadel Dance Program cultivates dance within Citadel + Compagnie’s immediate neighbourhood, delivering free dance education to local youth, making dance both accessible and visible to those living within Regent Park, and increasing awareness of the art form.

The development of the full-length version of “Black Ballerina” is taking place through the support of  Citadel + Compagnie, Canadian Stage, and the Kaaitheatre. 

Citadel LIVE is produced with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Arts Council, and made possible (in part) by the Government of Canada.