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INSTRUCTORS

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TEE (she/her)

Owner, Founder, Lead Instructor, and Teacher Trainer

Tee started her pole journey in October of 2017 while she was serving in Peace Corps Ukraine. Even though she didn't have a formal dance or gymnastics background (and couldn't even touch her toes), she was hooked after just the first class. She returned to the US to pursue a master's degree, only to discover that pole studios are much fewer and further in between in the US. She decided to open Soma in order to share her love of pole with others. 

She says, "Pole has been the focal point of transformation in my life. Through pole and the community that comes with it, I have discovered my strength, resilience, and power. Soma is a place for others to do the same."

Tee maintains that pole dance is a form of decolonial practice. Using her MA research as a reference, she integrates decolonial methodology, reflective practice, and trauma-conscious instruction into the pedagogy and operation of the studio. She is also a certified pole instructor (levels 1-4) through Xpert Fitness, a PSO unicorn, and a professional level competitor.  

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KRISTA (she/her)

Instructor

Krista has lived in South Bend since 2000, and has been an active part of the art, music, and movement community in the area.  She took her first pole dancing class at Soma in 2021 on the encouragement of a friend, and pole soon became a life-changer for her.  

Krista didn’t have the strength or flexibility to fully execute any of the tricks in her Intro to Pole class, but the joyful, inclusive and supportive studio community hooked her right away.  She knew she wanted the body awareness that pole dancing cultivates and she loves how pole defies her own limited expectations of herself, both in body and mind.  And at 50 years of age, she thought her days of hanging upside down were over…but she thought wrong!  

 

Krista has a reverence for the roots of pole dancing in exotic dancing/stripping, and her current artistic- and movement-based research is focused on the history of sex work and sex-worker activism in the United States. A former professor of sculpture and installation art, Krista is interested in how we can create momentum in our bodies in all types of spaces: the beautiful Soma Pole Studio, a small stage, or a club environment.

 

Krista loves performing and is a gold-medal winner at the PSO Central Competition 2022 (Freestyle/Lowflow Level 1).  She is a certified pole instructor (level 1 and 2) through Xpert Fitness and is currently working on her Liquid Motion Certification. Krista teaches two beginner level courses:  Honey Flow, a dance class that explores the freestyle and dance fundamentals; and Intro to Pole, your first pole class.

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CHLOE (she/her)

Instructor

Chloe grew up in South Bend and has stayed in the area her whole life. Trying out an intro class in January of 2021, right when Soma opened, seemed like a fun and different activity to do. She hadn't seen anything like this being offered in the area before.  Being shy, inflexible, and a little self-conscious, Chloe didn’t know what to expect. 

It has turned out that pole is one of Chloe’s passions. She is amazed at the strength, flexibility, and body awareness that she has gained! She loves that pole allows her to make goals for herself that she knows she can achieve, even if it seems impossible at the start. She loves the encouraging community at Soma and finds pole to be an excellent stress-reliever. It has helped her build confidence and pushes her to continue trying things that take her out of her comfort zone (such as the Heelography classes!)

Chloe is a certified pole instructor (level 1 and 2) through Xpert Fitness and wants to share her passion for pole with others. She hopes she can accompany others on their pole journeys. Chloe currently teaches beginner and intermediate tricks classes.

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ERICA (she/her)

Instructor

Erica has lived in South Bend since she was 3. She started her pole journey at Soma in January 2021. Although she has a background in yoga and some experience with Middle Eastern dance, pole was unlike anything she had ever done before.

 

She stepped into her first intro class not knowing what to expect, but she hasn’t looked back since. The community she found at Soma is welcoming and encouraging. Paired with the sense of confidence and strength pole gives her, she feels right at home. And Soma has become just that: a second home and a place for healing. She hopes to share that same sense of community with everyone that she has the privilege of teaching or learning with in class. 

Erica is a certified pole instructor (levels 1 and 2) through Xpert Fitness, a certified yoga instructor (RYT 200), and has competed in regional pole competitions. She currently teaches Flexibility and Conditioning, Full Body Flexibility, and an intermediate tricks class (level 3). 

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REBECCA (she/her)

Instructor

Rebecca was born and raised in the Michiana region. She took her first pole class when Soma opened in January of 2021. She was a cheerleader in her youth, and she also loves yoga, pilates, and other types of dance. However, when she first touched the pole, she knew that this would be a life-long practice. 

 

The dance aspect of pole captured Rebecca's heart and soul from the very beginning, and she loves sharing that aspect with her students. In addition to teaching dance classes at Soma, she is also the main party instructor and loves to show party goers a good time! She feels most alive when she is dancing and/or performing. She has competed at a regional pole competition and performed at numerous showcases. 

Rebecca is a certified pole instructor (levels 1 and 2) through Xpert Fitness and a certified Twerk Technician™ Instructor. She currently teaches a pole choreography class, a twerk class, chair dance,and a beginner tricks class. 

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LAUREN (she/her)

Instructor

Lauren started her pole journey at Soma in January 2021 when Soma opened. Being part of the Soma community has been a wonderful experience for her. It has allowed her to feel connected to her body in a way that she has not been able to connect before, which has made her feel comfortable doing things that were previously outside of her comfort zone. She loves teaching at Soma because she wants to help other people have a good experience learning pole and feel confident and strong trying new things.

Lauren is a certified pole instructor (levels 1 and 2) through Xpert Fitness and has competed in regional pole competitions and several showcases. She currently teaches beginner level tricks classes and a beginner and intermediate floorwork class. 

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GINA (she/her)

Instructor

Gina grew up in Southwest Michigan and moved back to the area in June of 2022. During the ten years she spent in Portland, she started sporadically taking pole classes in 2017 after discovering the art in the clubs. She taught middle school for five years then decided to dedicate all of her time to performing. 

 

She took her first class at Soma in 2022. While not having much consistency in the previous years, finding Soma gave her a renewed love of pole dancing after taking a couple years off. She feels she’s made more progress in her first year at Soma than in all the other years combined. Pole dancing is important to her for the community, her increasing strength, and the amazing free feeling that comes with aerial activity. 

 

Because Gina grew up with alopecia, losing all her hair as a child, she has gained an extreme understanding of insecurities and feeling disconnected from self. Pole dancing was an integral part of gaining confidence and presence within her body. She loves how Soma is so encouraging of uniqueness and finding your own style. Gina believes in radical self acceptance and you will probably see her rocking a different look often.

 

Gina is a certified pole instructor (levels 1 and 2) through Xpert Fitness and loves to create flowy choreography focusing on constant movement and heel technique. Gina teaches Melt, a slow choreography class that explores sensual movement, and beginner level tricks classes.

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MANDY (she/her)

Instructor

Mandy's pole journey began November 2020 when she was researching alternative fitness ideas online and came across a pole dance studio in Valparaiso, IN.  She was excited but nervous. Little did she know it was a decision that would change her life and outlook.

Just two months later, Soma Pole Studio opened its doors in her community. This was the perfect opportunity for her to fly into the world of pole dancing, surrounded by a supportive and inspiring community. From the moment she stepped foot into the studio, she felt a sense of belonging and encouragement.

Through her pole journey, Mandy has not only gained physical strength and endurance but also a renewed sense of empowerment, motivation, and passion. Pole dancing has allowed her to awaken her creative senses, tap into her sensuality, and explore movement in ways she had never experienced before.

Mandy is a certified pole instructor (level 1 and 2) through Xpert Fitness and as well as Liquid Motion 1.0, 2.0 and Pole! She hopes to be able to not only share knowledge of techniques/mechanics alongside self-exploration.  She has performed in numerous local events and showcases and is a gold-medal winner at the PSO Central Competition 2022 (Championship Level 3) and a silver-medal winner in 2023 (Championship Level 4). Mandy currently teaches beginner and intermediate Liquid Motion classes and beginner tricks classes.

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SARA (she/her)

Instructor

Sara is originally from the California desert and has now lived in South Bend for more than twenty years. Since childhood, she has loved many different forms of dance and movement, but only discovered the art of pole at Soma in 2021. At first she was intimidated by how challenging pole is, especially as a sweaty person who bruises easily. She persevered thanks to the support and encouragement of everyone in the Soma community. Once she was able to achieve some basic moves, she started to enjoy the endless challenges that pole presents.

 

She loves the infinite variety of styles to explore in pole and is inspired to see how each person expresses themselves uniquely. Pole has increased her self-confidence and provided her with a much-needed creative outlet. It is an excellent way to be present and let go of day-to-day worries. Most of all it is the joy of sharing struggles and triumphs with friends in class keeps her coming back.

 

Sara is a certified pole instructor through Xpert Fitness (levels 1 and 2) as well as a yoga teacher. She currently teaches flexibility classes, Intro to Pole, and Contemporary Pole.

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