El Duque de la Bachata (The Duke of Bachata)

by Adam Taub

In Celebration of Artists Screening:
Friday, March 18th | 9:00 p.m. | George Washington House

USA | 2009 | Documentary | 53 mins | English & Spanish w/ English subtitles | Web Site

Duke of Bachata

Filmmaker Adam Taub follows Joan Soriano, a bachata musician, as he strives to make a success of his career and improve the lives of the extended family he leaves behind in the rural Dominican Republic. Bachata is a Dominican musical genre that evolved from bolero and is characterized by its distinctive lead guitar and the romantic dance that it inspires. Although, it was once looked down upon and repressed within its own country of origin for various socio-economic reasons, bachata is now enjoying increased popularity worldwide.

Soriano, for his part, has enriched the standard repertoire by drawing on traditions from Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, adding elements of merengue, salsa, and the percussive Afro-Dominican genres known as salve and palo. He has received limited success with his 1998 CD Vocales de Amor and has been featured in The Rough Guide of Bachata. But, at age 37, he finds himself still struggling to make it big. Journeying to the USA as part of the Bachata Roja tour with living bachata legends Edilio Paredes and El Chivo Sin Ley, Soriano is aware that the price of his ambition will be the pain of separation from his family. But he also knows it may be worth paying, as a music producer begins to record a CD of his work.

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About the Filmmaker

Adam TaubColorado filmmaker Adam Taub became interested in bachata during a year-abroad college program to the Dominican Republic and from dancing various latin styles. When he decided to make a documentary about it, he searched for a musician who, like bachata itself, had roots in the countryside and barrios of the Dominican Republic. Though he had a long list of candidates to begin with, upon meeting Soriano, Taub knew he’d found his subject.

Taub’s previous work includes La Quinceañera, which follows Ana Maria and her family as they prepare for and celebrate her Quince Años (50th birthday) in Tijuana, Mexico. He is currently in production on another bachata-related film entitled Legends and a film that explores his family’s Halloween mask and costume-making business.