Soma Pole Studio aims to open in downtown South Bend in 2021

Soma Pole Studio aims to open in downtown South Bend in 2021

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Mary Shown
Three years ago, Mathilda Nassar was halfway around the world, serving in the Peace Corps in Ukraine. One weekend, she and a group of friends decided to try a pole class.

“I remember thinking ‘this is not what I expected’ and ‘it’s so great,’” said Nassar. “And from that first class, I was obsessed.”

From then, Nassar describes her experience of dancing and practicing acrobatics on a vertical pole as transformative and continuously sought it out anywhere she went in life, even competing and succeeding in levels that now allow her to perform professionally.

When she came to South Bend to attend graduate school last year, she searched for a pole studio by reaching out to local dance galleries but none could be found.

She then established a pole in her home and started hosting a few other people as well, but that was effectively put to a halt once the coronavirus pandemic began.

“One of the greatest things about pole is the community and I thought ‘I can keep doing this or I can open my own studio,’” she said.

So, once again, she’s sought out another option.

Nassar will open Soma Pole Studio in downtown South Bend in January 2021. The new studio will be at 218 Sycamore St., in what was once the campaign office for former Mayor Pete Buttigieg during his 2020 presidential run. Construction work still needs to be done at the quaint building, but eventually, nine poles will be installed inside.

Nassar plans to offer several class styles to emphasize the many different approaches to pole dancing.

Every client is expected to take a beginner class to learn the basics of pole dancing, but from there, patrons will be able to choose from a purely workout-focused class with flexibility and conditioning, an acrobatic class that works on maneuvers and gymnastic-like tricks on the vertical pole and an exotic choreography class that focuses on the more sensual side.

“Pole is officially recognized as a sport and this will teach the sport aspects, but I can also teach the artistic aspects, like dance and sensuality and expression,” Nassar said. “People can choose what pole is to them and it’s my job to facilitate that choice.”

Nassar said that because pole is so specialized, class prices will tend to be on the higher side but are comparable with other specialty work-out options such as yoga and barre classes. And, in light of the pandemic, Nassar plans to put in place safety precautions such as allowing only one client to use one pole per class, requiring all customers to wear masks, installing poles 7 feet apart, disinfecting equipment after each class and conducting temperature checks for instructors and clients.

Overall, Nassar hopes to build a community around her business and to guide new clients to discovering pole as an empowerment.

“For me, it helped me discover my own strengths and resilience and confidence,” she said. “It’s so much more than just tricks and dance, but it truly is something that is so powerful.”

Nassar anticipates opening Soma in January, with an exact opening date to be determined later. In the meantime, you can find more information at

Have you heard?

Fatbird will open this Tuesday. The contemporary Southern style restaurant is located at 103 W. Colfax Ave. next to the Morris Performing Arts Center in downtown South Bend. Keep an eye out for the next column to get a look at the new restaurant. … South Bend Brew Werks will soon move into the Hibberd Building. According to a social media post on the business’ page, the local brewery and restaurant will move into the space next to bakery The Ragamuffin at 321 S. Main St. Owner Steve Lowe anticipates a spring 2021 opening and said the business will remain open at its current location, 216 S. Michigan St., until the move. … Some concerns have been going around that LaSalle Grill is closing. The rumors are not true and LaSalle Grill remains open, with owner Mark McDonnell saying he is looking forward to the future. … As a heads up, there will be no Wednesday column this week. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

Soma Pole Studio will open on Sycamore Street near downtown South Bend in early January

Mathilda Nassar performs in a Pole Sport Organization event. Nassar will open Soma Pole Studio near downtown South Bend in early 2021.

Mathilda Nassar stands in front of a building in downtown South Bend where her new pole dancing studio, Soma Pole Studio, will open in early 2021.