Renowned Dominican folklorist Dagoberto Tejeda was the guest of honor at the event.
Thursday, May 16th, 2013.- A great photo exhibition of large dimensions about the folkloric dances of the Dominican Republic, co-sponsored by the Dominican firm VICINI, the Dominican Studies Institute (DSI) and the City College of New York (CUNY), will be on display from May 17th until August 17th in Amsterdam Plaza of the historical City College of New York campus in Upper Manhattan. The inauguration of the photo exhibit, which is free and open to the public, will take place on Friday, May 17th at 6:00 p.m. at CUNY’s Amsterdam Plaza.
The alfresco photo exhibit is based on a selection of fifty-eight photographs taken by Mariano Hernández and Pedro Genaro, and extracted from a book authored by renowned Dominican folklorist Dagoberto Tejeda Ortiz titled “Identity and Magic: Folkloric Dances of the Dominican Republic”. The book tells the history and stories of Dominican folkloric dances and the photos play a fundamental role in visually reviving those stories.
The book takes us on journey from Europe and Africa to the Caribbean, reaching the shores of the Dominican Republic, and affords us an understanding of the roots of folk dancing, its development and evolution in the Dominican Republic. Moreover, it brings to life dances that are no longer performed but were once vital expressions and of which we still retain vestiges, as well as those dances that are vibrantly present today and provide a hint, through the thread of music and movement, of dances that will surely evolve in the future.
This is the third photo exhibit coordinated by CUNY’s DSI in Amsterdam Plaza during the last few years. “We are very satisfied that City College continues to support our collaborations with institutions from the Dominican Republic who wish to invest significant resources to promote the education of the general public regarding Dominicans heritage, and in this case through a key element of our culture, such as the folkloric dances,” said Sarah Aponte, Chief Librarian at CUNY’s DSI and the onsite coordinator of the photo exhibition. “It is comforting to know that we can count on the support of the University and its different departments for these initiatives that seek to explain to New Yorkers another aspect of the Dominican thematic, so that Dominicans, and their contribution to our city, can be better understood”, she concluded.
“It is a happy coincidence that this exhibit will be inaugurated right when we are preparing our graduation ceremonies for this year” said Robert Santos, Vice-President for Campus Planning and Facilities at CUNY, the University’s department, which has provided the structures, lighting, surveillance and maintenance of the exhibit. “All those who come to participate in our graduation celebrations will have the opportunity to see something interesting while they are at our campus. We should have an exhibit of this nature ever year during these dates. It is a magnificent exhibition”, he stated.
A diversity of Dominican folkloric dances exist that show differences according to the various ethnic influences they have inherited and also the regional and local distinctive features they incorporate. Spanish, indigenous pre-Columbian, German, Anglo-Caribbean and Haitian influences are present in different levels in these dances that are practiced in secular as well as religious situations, and some of them can be witnessed nowadays directly within the great Dominican community of the city of New York.
“For VICINI, this exhibit represents a great opportunity to show our interest in strengthening Dominican culture and the collective well-being of all Dominicans, as well as our commitment to both aspects, in such a way that Dominicans living abroad are reminded about the culture that we share and we are able to teach non-Dominicans a fundamental cultural practice that not only defines us but also helps us as a nation to experience the happy and bitter moments in life”, said the representatives of VICINI. They added, “In this sense, we are immensely thankful for CUNY’s disposition to support this project.”
Máximo Vidal, President of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Dominican Republic (AMCHAMDR), which organizes the celebration of Dominican Week in the United States, thanked VICINI and CUNY’s Dominican Studies Institute for the initiative to make available for the Dominican community in New York as well as all New Yorkers, photographs that show a very relevant aspect of Dominican culture. “Our traditions are also kept alive through its dissemination in the form of art as we are doing with this exhibit. I hope that many people come to enjoy it and get to know us a bit more,” said Vidal.
Roberto Herrera, President of the Dominican Week Organizing Committee, said that the annual event closed under a high note with the inauguration of an exhibition that greatly identifies with the cultural roots of the Dominican nation. “It is an effort we need to thank VICINI for and we are sure it will be rewarded when the Dominican community comes to see the photos, and in the case of the younger generation, learn more about the Dominican Republic.”
“In the past, people from all over the city have come to Upper Manhattan’s Amsterdam Plaza to see our exhibitions, as well as the people from surrounding neighborhoods who come to contemplate the photos, even during the night. You can come to the plaza at 11:00 p.m. and even after midnight, and find people peacefully walking around admiring the photographs in the silence of the night. It is a spectacle that is very emotional to witness and it definitely compensates all the effort it takes to prepare the exhibit. I am sure the same thing will happen on this occasion,” said Dr. Ramona Hernández, Director of CUNY’s DSI.