Have you Met Bachata? Duologues between Canada and Dominican Republic

2011, Culture, History, New College, University of Toronto, Temporary Exhibit
3D model, audio content, Canada, dance, diaspora, Dominican Republic, event photos, music, poster, University of Toronto
About This Project

Date: March 24 – April 8, 2011

Partner: New College

Venue: Wilson Hall – map

Project Members: Jana Awad and Cynthia Roberts



Have you Met Bachata? provides a platform for exchange and participation in which visitors will explore the intersections between dance, music, and culture from multiple perspectives. Furthermore, this exhibition intends to provide context and an understanding of bachata as a popular cultural trend that has evolved and transcended beyond its original borders and into particular societies.


The exhibition is intended for existing communities in Toronto that share a common interest in World and/or Latin rhythms, people interested in world cultures and societies Academics and students from various related areas of study.


The exhibition is located in a student lounge at New College, at the University of Toronto St-George campus, allowing for natural traffic and close to the Women and Caribbean Studies departments.


This exhibition is financially supported by the iSchool, while the venue is generously provided by New College.


Planning for the exhibition began in September 2010. After an extensive search for a venue, this latter was confirmed on February 7, 2011. During this time, content research was conducted and a network was built. While time passed, conceptual themes were set and curatorial research was established. The physical design began as soon as the venue was confirmed and was set within a month. The promotion phase started as early as February 18 at the Toronto Bachata Festival where we displayed a poster with a sneak peak of the upcoming exhibition. Audio recordings were edited within two weeks. The exhibit was installed on March 22 and 23, and opened on March 24. It was de-installed on April 8, 2011.
Have you Met Bachata? Duologues between Canada and Dominican Republic, is a multimedia exhibit based on interpretation. Organized in three thematic stations –There & Then, Here & Now, and Meet Bachata!– each station contains interpretive panels that sets the context and offers general information. Objects on display such as music instrument (güira), vinyl records, and Dominican roadside bachata-party signs, support the information provided. Furthermore, the duologue between Canada and Dominican Republic is emphasized by the juxtaposition of two photographic collages, one displaying the bachata scene in Dominican Republic during the 1960s and another of Toronto during the 2010s. Centered on the concept of multiple perspectives, the exhibition offers five different perspectives on bachata, whether as personal recounts or professional/academic insights on the rhythm. The exhibition design, through its structural composition (i.e. stacked tables) and its colour palette (i.e. purple, pink, orange, blue) echos the overarching message: bachata is vibrant, layered, and in constant evolution.


Promotion was first conducted through a poster presentation at the 2nd Toronto Bachata Festival. Flyer distribution targeted dance schools, St.Clair Avenue west, academic departments, student groups, etc. An e-vite was sent to all participants to further the outreach. Promotional posters were hung across New College residence. A Facebook page was created and attracted an interested audience and allowed us to keep in touch with them. Word-of-mouth was encouraged through social media and personal contacts. Our participation in a student conference at the Caribbean Studies department also got the word out about our exhibit to scholars and students interested in the topic of the exhibit.
As the creators we hope visitors have: reflected and personally connected with the exhibition’s themes; gained deeper insights into the relationships between dance, music, and societies; greater curiosity about different contemporary cultural expressions.


We want to thank: our writing Editors, Patrick Carey, Vanessa Fleet, Kristin Stoesz; Audio Editor, Caroline Monette; Installation Assistants, Heather Anderson, Martha Kroeker; The iSchool, the Museum Studies faculty, and classmates; New College and their staff.


Special thank you to Professors Néstor Rodríguez, Melanie Newton, and Alissa Trotz. Our five recorded perspectives and informants in Dominican Republic and Toronto.