Hey famalay, Chief Jaz here!

Did you know Soka Tribe is searching for new Chiefs? We’re looking for people who are full of vibe, love to learn about and share Caribbean carnival culture, and dance like no one is watching. If that’s you, sign up for our audition & intensive on June 13 in DC (with virtual options available) — no previous experience necessary.

 

 

This makes me think about my own Soka Tribe Chief journey. I began coming to class in 2016. By the following year, the brand had grown so much that Sokanista needed more hands.

“Are you interested in maybe becoming an instructor?” she asked. “You have really great energy and I think people will respond well to you.”

I was gobsmacked! I mean, I definitely have an attention-grabbing waistline, but leading a dance fitness class was a bit out of my comfort zone.

On the other hand, I loved those soca-filled Saturday mornings & Thursday evenings at the late great Off Road studio. I loved the people, who were so welcoming and fun as hell. Scary as it was, it could be a cool opportunity.

So, after a whirlwind summer of training, learning brand info and choreo, and instructing small community classes, I was finally a Chief!

 

Fast-forward to 2021, and being a Soka Tribe Chief has brought so many incredible opportunities, skills, and people to my life. In 2017, I opened for and performed alongside Machel Montano. In 2018, I danced on the legendary Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. In 2019, I went to Trinidad for the first time in my life and incidentally stumbled upon my grandmother’s final resting place, during Carnival week. That same year, I travelled to Accra, Ghana to teach about Caribbean carnival and learn about some of the dance styles and celebrations on the Continent that influenced the celebration I loved so much. In 2020, I became certified in the incredible Talawa Technique movement system; I also earned a second hat as Soka Tribe’s Director and have learned a great deal about entrepreneurship and marketing along the way.

 

Becoming a Chief has given me new sister- and brother-friends, a fete and travel crew, another stream of income, and deeper pride and understanding of my heritage. I only hope I can give this community back a fraction of what it has given me.

 

Here’s Sokanista interviewing me about it all!