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The Project

Cacao | A Venezuelan Lament is a multi-year, multidisciplinary arts project that builds on more than seven years of research to offer timely insight into the complex lived realities of Venezuela’s cacao farmers as they fight to preserve their way of life in the face of national crisis and the pressures of neoliberal industrialization. Putting into generative conversation Canadian contemporary and traditional Afro-Venezuelan dance genres, we explore the tensions between remembering and forgetting, and how cultural memory’s ephemerality is shaped through and of global economic and political forces. We further explore through critical engagement the realities behind the bites of chocolate we’ve come to take for granted as private organic chocolate markets expand internationally. The stage is thus a means through which to reflect, to unite, to heal, and to catalyze social and political transformation.

Cacao | A Venezuelan Lament is a celebration of life, of culture and of love that pierces through narratives of suffering and radically turns our attention to the radiant resiliency and untethered jubilation that are the heart of cacao farming communities.

Victoria in rehearsal with dancers. Image - Tiffany Hsiung

“This production is an offering and a vessel for metabolizing what my family has lost.”

– Victoria Mata Soledad, Artistic Creator & Choreographer



This project’s inspiration is rooted in my childhood memories of playing in Venezuela’s cacao farms…of cracking open cacao pods, of sucking on the cotton-soft fruit, and of competing with other kids to see who could spit their cacao beans the farthest. It is inspired by the sound of the wind rustling the cacao tree leaves and the smell of the earth’s rich soil. Above all, this project finds its greatest inspiration in the strength, vulnerability and life-affirming dedication of the many cacao farmers in Venezuela who welcomed us into their communities over the past decade and shared their struggles, joys, dances and dreams. This project is dedicated to them.