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2Profile: Julia Taffe & Colin ZachariasWhen a dancer/stunt woman meets a mountain guide, they take the next logical step: Rig up ropes and dance off the sides of mountains and skyscrapers. At least that’s what happened when Julia Taffe met Colin Zacharias. Through Julia’s Aeriosa Dance Society, the Vancouver-based couple is currently working on an elaborate routine for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. Julia acts as choreographer, while Colin works as the safety expert. When they’re not working together, Colin pursues his career as a mountain guide and avalanche specialist, while Julia oversees her dance company and does stunt work for films such as Fantastic Four and The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. Here, they share what it’s like to balance high-flying careers and a relationship.


Photograph of Julia Taffe and Colin Zacharias.

On how they met:
Julia says… “I met him in 1992 at a climbing gym on one of my trips to Vancouver. I was commuting back and forth between the Prairies and the West Coast, [mountain] guiding during the summer and dancing during the winter arts season. Colin was part of that guiding circle, so I knew him for years as an acquaintance. Then, when I moved to Vancouver permanently in 1999, I started hanging out with him more—Colin and I knew each other for almost 10 years before we started dating.”
Colin says… “We met at a climbing gym in Vancouver. Julia and I were both getting together as part of the climbing community. I was initially attracted to her—she’s very striking and, as a dancer, she moves with a certain grace.”

On working together:
Julia says… “We realized if we worked together, not only would I get the best rigging [of ropes, harnesses and safety equipment]—which makes Colin happy because he’s a perfectionist—but we would also get to spend more time together. Some of my dancers have said to me, ‘We really like it when Colin is around because you’re so much more relaxed.’ So, to have someone like Colin look after the rigging—which is critical because a mistake could injure or kill somebody—is really amazing.”
Colin says… “When she takes a step off a building, I feel better when I’m in charge. Her other riggers are very good and I trust them implicitly, but I like the feeling that I can keep her safe and also share in her vision.”

On their favourite shared activity:
Julia says… “The thing we dream about is surfing. Hiking and surfing are the things we do together that are really separate from both of our jobs. Life is pretty good on the beach. It’s really mellow and relaxing, and we both usually work way too hard!”
Colin says… “We love to travel and go surfing. We both enjoy walking in the wilderness, exploring mountains and seashores. When you’re walking, you can really enjoy the time together.”

On “playing house”:
Julia says… “Last November I turned 40, so we took a month and rented a house in Tofino, B.C. We invited all of our different friends to come out and spend time with us. It was like playing house. If you can do that when you’re not tired, it just makes it so much better. You can cook and entertain and know you don’t have to go to work the next day—and surfing was just across the street.”
Colin says… “It was our trip to domesticity. The thrills were just cooking and living together without job pressures. We love spending that kind of time together.”