400 Degreez Of Erotic Funk
400 Degreez Of Pole Dance (Audio Notes)
Altar'ed State: Practice As A Mysterious Feedback Loop of Death & Life

Altar'ed State: Practice As A Mysterious Feedback Loop of Death & Life

Being at the altar in practice, Divorcing the pole as an apparatus and also the sensual, erotic and the obscenity of the process of practice

TW/Disclaimer: This episode carefully discusses death, near death experiences and makes mention of unalived ideations. There are also ideologies and language from Human Design, Biblical text, Yoruba, Mayan and other ethnic, spiritual and astrological heritages involved. Please listen with full consent, check in with yourself.


This one is for heavy human excavation . You’ll meet Tiara J. without introduction but you’ll soon feel her as a dancer, mover, film maker, oracle, scholar, writer and Black Queer Fat Femme.

Full disclosure. I am a tough critic about the unethical use of scholarship, divinity, politics, astrology and new age wellness ideologies in pole dance education. As I have witnessed it being no more than a marketing ploy with a lack of studied/lived experience, consensual boundaries and integrity of care for those engaging with it. Too, I believe that the spirit realm has space and there are times where the spirit space intersect with our space. That sort of weird woo-woo happens in this episode. I want to honor my ethical commitment to not indoctrinate those that learn with me against their beliefs and I want to offer the critical thinking to dismiss or disagree with what may be shared with respectful recognition.

It was a joy to discuss some of these topics that are characterized as heavy. I genuinely believe it will lighten someone’s load and they’ll get free from some of the shit that is actually weighing them down. Take a listen.


Chat Notes:

In the first segment (0:15-32:21) Tiara, called as the singular letter “T”, sets the conversation off by framing her many practices in life as being at the altar of her dead. She talks about the film archive of her movement practice: recording and seeing herself alive whilst also seeing the many passed on ancestral threads in her movement. Insulated, because of the pandemic, Tiara takes us through how her practice has become more about spirit as apparatus, rather than the pole as apparatus. This is wholly due to the dance, movement and artistic imaging facilitation of Carmine Black, Rashida KhanBey Miller and India Davis. Ashley gets audibly shocked after realizing the apparatus and sentience connections T makes, which moves this conversation into the call and response of being at the altar. Ashley then creates the sentiment of seeing possibilities in death. Tiara makes note of how jarring discussing the concept of death is and how she approaches these conversations as someone who lives with chronic ideations. To resolve the first segment Tiara and Ashley discuss the death of T’s connection to the pole community as a result of no longer tethering herself to pole or to fitness, she says “Just like I can pick up my dead [ speak with my ancestors and spirit] … I can pick up pole again”

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In the second segment (32:53-1:02:00) Tiara comments that this conversation is sensual as a result of juxtaposing her and Ashley’s views on death with nods towards their Human Design mechanics and astrological placements, experiencing the exchange of information. Ashley hitches the conversation onto the death of T’s pole usage for dancing and what that experience of practice has been like for her since. Tiara responds by sharing her view that within dance or movement classes there is an emphasis on training to gain physical vocabulary and how without the pole she’s been able to train her physical senses. Ashley then knocks the conversation up a notch, suggesting that, that is erotic and offers another phrase for the term training that T mentioned in her opening. Tiara talks about the sensuous/sensual, having a felt sense of things, whatever the consistency, versus tethering it to a singular reading of softness. T then pushes back on sexual energy that is put on and not real and how she can now recognize when it doesn’t feel real. Ashley agrees about how uncomfortable it is to see and feel sexual energy be “put on” and not actual, calling it rigid and flat without sustenance. T then suggests maybe a counter point about how the work [the practice] is about the process and noticing the moments in her movement when the flatness arises and her curiosity in that “betrayal” moment.

In the last segment (1:03:03-1:38:00) Listeners are brought into the tail end of a tangential conversation from their break where Ashley is considering her theological priesthood, reflecting on biblical stories and the ability to penetrate and what it means to be “first born”. And the conflicts that have arose from what she believes to be a misunderstanding of “right to posses” and that reading on current and past events in the Middle East. This tangent leads them back to the juxtaposition of life and death and being able to see the possibility of life in death or the questioning/ideation of death. Tiara then bleeds into her embedding with Mayan traditions and her own Mayan cross and nawal. She talks about the saturation of feeling and experience of living that sometimes it leaves her in surrendering to going to the bottom and experiencing the lows of human living and dying. Ashley translates T’s views into how it can be read through the lens of practice—how the lows and lulls arise, and the erection[stimulation] of practice is no more. T says “There is so much emphasis on the pleasurable…and pleasure is flat”. Ashley then asks her in response “what is full?”. T says there is no word for it, while Ashley offers the word mystery to equate it to the dimensionality of the human experience unto death. The two begin to close around observations of embodiment, as T reads from Jacques Derrida’s “The Gift Of Death”. She asks can you look at yourself? Even when you are not erect? If you can be met in the darkness. Ashley rebukes toxic positivity with the lifting of encouragement that comes from intimacy.

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Citations & Sources:

Photo: Asia-Vinae Palmer

“Rashida KhanBey Miller.” Reclaim your body and self-confidence, www.rashidakhanbeymiller.com.

“Carmine Black.” A realm of dance & desire, infused with the divine., www.carmineblack.com.

“India Sky Davis.” India Sky Davis, indiaskydavis.squarespace.com.

Alexander, M. Jacqui. Pedagogies of Crossing: Meditations on Feminism, Sexual Politics, Memory, and the Sacred. Durham: Duke University Press, 2005.

Lorde, Audre. Uses of the Erotic : the Erotic as Power. Freedom, Calif, 1978.

“Firstborn: The Last Will Be First.” BibleProject, www.bibleproject.com/podcast/series/firstborn-last-will-be-first, Portland Oregon, 2023.

Cherríe Moraga, Gloria Anzaldúa ; foreword, Toni Cade Bambara. This Bridge Called My Back : Writings by Radical Women of Color. Watertown, Mass. :Persephone Press, 1981.

Derrida, Jacques. The Gift of Death. University of Chicago Press, 1 June 1996.

“Books - Akwaeke Emezi.” Akwaeke Emezi, www.akwaeke.com/books.

Knuckolls, Dayna Lynn. “The Ultimate Reality Is Death.” The People’s Oracle, , thepeoplesoracle.com.

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400 Degreez Of Erotic Funk
400 Degreez Of Pole Dance (Audio Notes)
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