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Zanzibar Studio Interview with Jules Downum and Lacy Maselle

lacy maselle and jules downumZanzibar Studio is Chattanooga’s First School of Belly Dance and is co-owned by Jules Downum and Lacy Maselle who are also the school’s co-directors. According to Jules and Lacy, Zanzibar Studio provides a wide variety of dance and movement classes for adults. Lacy and Jules believe that dance provides an intellectual, artistic, physical, and social outlet and is for everybody – regardless of age, race, or body type. Their classes are designed to balance technical breakdown, exercise, and fun.

Zanzibar’s philosophy is steeped in personal empowerment through growing awareness. They believe that body awareness, in particular, opens up so many doors both physically and emotionally. Tapping into their intuitive selves can be a powerful tool for their growing awareness and it can help them tap into their more creative and spiritual selves.

belly dancingIn the opinion of both Lacy and Jules, what separates their dance studio from other dance studios is the fact that they cater to adults. Though they offer a variety of dance classes many of their classes are belly dance. Their four belly dance instructors have a combined 45 years in experience and they are committed to keeping standards high.

Since Jules has been teaching weekly classes for 12 years, she finds it difficult to pick one moment that she would call her “proudest.” However, one moment that sticks out for her occurred when she was in graduate school in San Diego. She had created a dance program in a homeless shelter in downtown San Diego as part of her thesis research. At the end of the class one week, one of the students came up and told him how dance was the only thing in her life that made her feel accepted. Jules says that she has nothing to do with his coaching but shows how dance can help break down social barriers and create connections between people.

belly dance

Lacy says she does not have one moment that sticks out as her “proudest” – only moments that bring her into the present with other human beings when she is teaching. That moment when the teacher and student melt together in the learning process and they are not just “teacher” and “student” anymore is the most magical feeling she has ever felt. According to Lacy, knowledge and self empowerment are super important to her and what she hopes to help contribute as a teacher. Getting excited and immersed in what she loves is the most liberating experience she has ever had in her life. It enriches their existence. Lacy wants people to feel and understand that all of these “ah ha” moments are deep inside of them. As a teacher, she thinks they can help illuminate the knowledge people already have within. She loves those moments when you see it happen.

Jules believes that the biggest mistake dancers make is taking themselves too seriously. It is okay to make mistakes or not be good at something. If you keep showing up to class, you will get it eventually.

belly dance classLacy believes that the biggest mistake students make is thinking they are not students anymore. They think they are masters. Actually, they all have something to learn.

Their goal for this year is to increase the public’s awareness of their existence and what they do.

Rather than founding a new studio, Jules and Lacy purchased the studio where they both began belly dancing. They bought it because they loved it, the founders were moving, and they wanted to make sure dance classes were still available in the area.

They want people to know they offer something for everyone. It should also be known what an amazing and diverse student population they have. It is a supportive and fun community of which to be a part!

If you would like more information about Zanzibar Studio, visit their website at, email them at or call them at 423-299-5836.

Anyone who has danced at Zanzibar Studio is invited to comment on our blog.


. . . dance provides an intellectual, artistic, physical, and social outlet and is for everybody – regardless of age, race, or body type.

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