March 8 marks International Women’s Day and Bella Dance Academy is including its young male participants in a celebration of that special occasion.

Academy owner Phoenix Smith said the dance students will be educated on various powerful women in the community and others who have had a historical impact on dance. There will be emphasis on what these individuals have taught others through their strength of character in overcoming obstacles.

Smith has been handling day-to-day operations at Bella Dance Academy for eight years now, as the business approaches its 20th anniversary. She became owner of the academy last September after purchasing it from Lina Lewis.

She holds classes for kids in various age groups and offers different types of dance to fit a range of personalities.

During the upcoming weekend, the studio will attend a competition in Edmonton. Youth who have been selected will travel without their parents; instead with somebody else the first time, and Smith feels grateful and pleased to see dancers get the opportunity to do so.

In helping to develop young dancers, Smith says she looks for ways to boost their self-confidence. Among the youngest academy members — age two — she admits that estabilishing communication can be a bit tricky.

When the purchase from Lewis was finalized, Smith told Yellowknifer that she was hoping to mould the academy into what she would like it to be.

“Lina built such a great business here, there’s such a great foundation and I’m really hoping to continue building that connection to the community that we have,” she said. “I want to make this a safe and welcoming place for everyone who comes. It’s all about being inclusive and making it a place not just for girls. Everyone is welcome to come and be a part of our academy.”

But Smith loves to see kids come through her studio’s doors to express themselves, and she says she’s thankful to all the people who help make the community a better place.

“Yellowknife is a community where people come and go, it’s a very transitory place,” she said in October. “You wonder if there’s that connection, but I want everyone to know that I’m going to be here for them and I’ve made Yellowknife my home.”

Kaicheng Xin

Kaicheng Xin is a Multimedia Journalist with NNSL Media. You can reach him at

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