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Alta states

Phoebe Phoenix: Falling in love with winter

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A week later she was back in Canada, back in Whistler and hanging out at Jimmy D’s. “That’s where I met my husband,” she says. “And he was exactly what I’d asked for: gentle, strong, kind, hard-working and he loved me to death.” She smiles, if only just a bit sadly. “We were married in the fall of ’95, had a construction company, a farm, a child and 12 happy years later, we divorced…”

Divorced? “He’s a great guy,” she says of her former husband. “Just not my guy. Besides, my list is a little more detailed now.”

This parting of ways also led to a name change — and some might argue a bit of a life change too. “‘Phoenix’ is not the name I was born with,” she explains with a straight face. “Nor is it the name on my passport. But the summer of my divorce, I realized I’d become a different person.” Hence the different name. And given Phoebe’s success with the whole fire-dancing thing, borrowing her new name from that great mythical bird associated with rebirth and fire seems entirely appropriate. But nothing is ever that simple — especially not with Ms Phoenix.

“One of the big reasons I decided to go with Phoenix,” she says, “is that I found people could never spell Phoebe correctly. Now, I figured, there was a chance they might get the whole p-h-o-e thing…”

Indeed. And this is the whole secret to understanding Phoebe. She works with both sides of her brain! Trained in international business, she runs a bookkeeping and small-business consulting firm by day — “I work mostly with construction companies and retail outlets,” she explains — and by night she spins fire, with poi and double hula hoops and fans and staffs and ropes and…

“My two best subjects in school were accounting and art,” she says. “But at one of my first shows — back when I was only 17 — a graphic artist told me: ‘Don’t take a job in graphic art. It will kill you. Get a straight job and do your art on the side.’ So I heeded her words and when I went to uni, I focused on commerce and business…”