Since Romeo and his merry bachateros burst onto the urban Latino scene over ten years ago, bachata has become the epitome of New York Dominican swag. But before it was mixed up with hip hop, R&B, and a healthy dose of Washington Heights attitude, bachata was little more than abuelo-approved country music. A Dominicanized cross between Cuban bolero and son, the genre first hit the radio waves in the early 1960s after decades relegated to the provincial cantina circuit, and eventually grew into the global musical phenomenon we now associate with scandalously sensual high school dances.
Now, it seems bachata has gone full circle and returned to its small-town country roots in the form of La Academia de la Bachata. Located in the beach town of Cabarete, on the outskirts of Puerto Plata, The Bachata Academy is an collaborative initiative between iASO records and an educational non-profit called DREAM. Serving local children between 4 and 18 years of age, The Bachata Academy provides instruments and instruction for 40 full time students with the goal of fostering community and introduce high-standards of musicality into the production of this traditional genre.
A new documentary being produced by Aurora Dominicana (the production company that brought the world Dólares de arena and Jean Gentil), in collaboration with iASO puts the spotlight on the work of The Bachata Academy and gives a chance for some of its promising young students to show what they got for a global audience. While the film is still in production, Bachata! The Movie has released a brief teaser that brings up all sorts of warm and fuzzy emotions. Similar documentaries like 2005’s Rock School or Mad Hot Ballroom may come to mind, and these comparisons don’t seem all too far off. Like Bachata! The Movie, they subtly extoll the virtues of artistic education while giving us heartwarming images of young kids growing and mastering their craft.
Check it out and stand by for more news as the project develops.