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Dancing to Soca through Europe with Michelle Jodhan

Updated: Jun 27

By: Nievana Judisthir

Summer 2024 is approaching and everyone’s waistlines are thawing out. Carnival season in Toronto is coming in full force with bands and players ready for the heat and the road. A bright and vibrant season for the city, Toronto Caribbean Carnival is a time to celebrate the lives and culture of Caribbean people. It’s a time for Caribbean Torontoians to celebrate our history through movement and music. While the Caribbean is home to many beautiful genres of music, we celebrate soca during this time.

Soca music, a genre draped with the vibrant and festive cultures of the Caribbean, particularly that of Trinidad and Tobago, has a rich history that reflecting our diverse cultural heritage. Emerging in early 1970s, soca music has evolved from roots in calypso and blending influences from various musical traditions. Soca, a word derived from the words "soul" and "calypso," was created by Trinidadian musician Lord Shorty. Unhappy with the decreasing popularity of traditional calypso music, Lord Shorty experimented with the genre by blending it with R&B and funk, as well as incorporating Indian music. Soca music quickly gained popularity across the Caribbean and beyond. Over the decades, soca has been diversified into various sub-genres, including ragga soca, chutney soca, and steelpan soca.


One of the most notable soca artist in the industry right now is Kees Dieffenthaller, lead singer of Kes the Band. A literal band of brothers, Kes the Band have paved the way for new soca artists since 2005. Having opened for major acts such as Rihanna, Sean Paul, and John Legend, and collaborating with notable Caribbean artists like Ravi B, Gyptian, and Sheneesa, Kes the Band has touched the hearts and thrilled the waists of millions worldwide. Earlier this year, their album Man With No Door hit the main stage of music for Carnival, with the song “Tack Back” featuring producer Tano being popularly deemed as the song of the summer this year.

“Tack Back” has become a global hit thanks to social media. The widespread of the song on TikTok has lead to the beauty of soca making its way to 1.3 million listeners on Spotify thanks to the use of the sound in videos, plus the sharing and reposting of them. While a lot of the videos revolve around lipsyncing to the lyrics, one video in particular changed the way we look at exposure.

Michelle Jodhan, 22, is currently attending Schulich Business School and is also a dance instructor with the City of Toronto. Michelle has been making dance social media content for the last few years, purely for entertainment purposes and to express her love of dancing through creative platforms.  


While working on her International Bachelor of Business Administration, Michelle had the opportunity to study abroad in Strasbourg, France. Upon arriving, she had come up with an idea: since she is an avid listener of soca and longtime fan of Kes the Band, she would bring this new and hot track to Europe with her in an interactive way. She decided to dance to the song in every country she stepped foot in during the duration of her semester and thus, created this masterpiece.

I had a chance to sit down with her and discuss how this idea was planted and blossomed in the first place.


“How did you come up with the idea in the first place?”

Michelle: “I make TikToks, dancing videos and all of that already, and I didn’t know how much free time I’d have going abroad, but I wanted to still continue to do that. Then one day I was brainstorming with my sister and I was like, "I wanna have a list of all my video ideas that I can do in Europe, like cooking chicken curry for the first time in Europe.” I was good with it just brainstorming and then I was just like, “Oh I want to like dance in different places.” My sister said, “Well, you already make dances for work because they teach dance, so why not make up a dance to do when you’re there?””

“What were some of the challenges that you faced when you were trying to create this dance?”

Michelle: “I didn’t originally know how long I wanted it to be, but I did know that I wanted to hit the chourus of “Tack Back”. I did not wanna make it really a difficult dance. I didn’t know where I was going to be filming this in these countries, so I don’t know what my space would look like. I also didn’t know what I’m gonna be wearing half of the time, so I didn’t really know what my movability would be.”

Soca is a loud and proud genre of the Caribbean, and there’s so many artist and so many songs. What made you decide to use this one in particular? Was there a specific reason? Was it just because it was the new, hot Soca song this year?

Michelle: “I was going back-and-forth between a multitude of different songs and then I was stuck between two in particular. I actually put it on a poll on Instagram some time ago. I ask on my story sometimes because I’m hoping I can use the report for what song should I use in my dances.”

“What was the best part? What was your favourite part about creating this video?”

Michelle: “I think I’m a really creative person. I love creating content about anything and being able to execute it from literally inception to production to being in it to editing. I like all of it! 

“What do you want people to take away from this video?”

Michelle: “In the caption, that’s when I wrote it. I love to dance. Soca is home. Just because you’re far away from it doesn’t mean you are leaving behind. It is always a part of you. You just need to find a way to keep it with you. That’s why we have phones!”

“What is something you want people to know about soca?”

Michelle: “I was sad and depressed my first month of living abroad. I had no friends. It was very hard to make friends. So what did I do? Listened to soca. Soca is such a positive, uplifting genre in general. If you’re sad or need a mood boost, listen to soca.”

“Will we be seeing Michelle on the road this year? What are your Toronto Caribbean Carnival plans for 2024?”

Michelle: “Yes! Michelle will be on the road this year! A different band than last year, but that’s a surprise…”

Don’t forget to show Michelle some love on her video — and to defrost your waist for the summer!

See you on the road!

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