Soka Tribe’s mission is about spreading not only the vibe of Caribbean carnival, but also (and most importantly) carnival’s roots — particularly those buried in the soil of enslavement, emancipation, and decolonization. When we put on our costumes and feel the rhythms, it’s important for us all to understand that we’re part of something greater, something ancestral, something wide-reaching, technical, and still very much alive.
To do this, Soka Tribe is always challenging ourselves to dig deeper.
In 2020, Sokanista and Chief Jaz were honored to be accepted into the Talawa Technique Certification Intensive! Created by celebrated dancer, teaching artist, and scholar, Thomas Presto, the Talawa Technique is a system that studies and arranges African and Caribbean movements and dance practices to allow dancers to access, master, and build on Black dance and traditions across the diaspora, and throughout time. This prestigious and innovative intensive combines ancestral knowledge, modern scholarship, rich vocabulary, cultural context, and physical training into one incredible experience.
For six weekends, Sokanista and Chief Jaz virtually joined a cross-continental cohort of 15 healers, artists, teachers, and faith practitioners who use dance in their varied practices. Each week we learned from Thomas and Talawa master student-teachers, Joel Ramirez and Luciano Wolman. Each week we fellowshipped with the amazing and like-minded Black and brown practitioners in our cohort, and connected to our ancestors and their technologies.
All told, Sokanista & Chief Jaz earned Level 2 certifications to teach the Talawa Technique! If you’ve danced with us for virtual class in 2021, you’ve already tried some Talawa exercises and movements.
Soka Tribe leadership is excited to continue incorporating it throughout class, Convoy training and performances, and beyond. A huge thank you to the brilliant and talented Thomas Presto for helping us continue to decolonize our dance and cultural practices.
Watch Sokanista, Chief Jaz, and the Fall 2020 Talawa Cohort talk about our experience below!