For the past seven years, Phoenix Smith has been known around the city as the artistic director at Bella Dance Academy.
But you can add the title of owner to her business cards as she’s now in charge of the entire operation.
That’s because Smith has purchased the business from Lina Lewis, the academy’s founder. The sale went through on Sept. 1, but was only made public this past Saturday.
“There were a lot of transitions behind the scenes that had to happen, and so we waited until Oct. 1 to announce it,” said Smith.
Lewis founded the academy in 2004 and this is the 19th season of operations.
Smith said the sale had been discussed for quite some time.
“Covid was a challenge for Lina — she wasn’t able to come visit (from Vancouver) as often as she would have liked, so that was a big factor,” she said. “It was important to her that there was a person with a connection to the studio to take over.”
Even with the change in ownership, Smith said it will be business as usual with no major changes. All of the current programming will continue unaffected.
She did say, though, that her hope is 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.”
Many of the online comments have been in favour of the move with several making mention of the fact that Smith will now be there for the long-term.
Smith herself acknowledged there’s always a concern that people who make their mark will eventually move on.
“Yellowknife is a community where people come and go, it’s a very transitory place,” she said. “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.”
Lewis will still provide mentorship while things become finalized behind the scenes, added Smith.
“I have such a close relationship with Lina and she’s told me not to make the mistakes she made (when she started),” she said. “I’m excited about it, a bit nervous, but Lina has been a great mentor and I’m confident in what’s to come for us.”