Carolyn Phillips Cusson

Carolyn is a Member of the British Association of Teachers of Dancing and is on the Judges' Panel of the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing. Having moved from Toronto, as a former Ontario Provincial Highland Dance champion, and Canadian Inter-Provincial Runner-Up Champion, she ran a dancing school in Prince George, BC, for fourteen years, since she was 17. During that time she trained many provincial and national champion dancers, and, together with her mother, Donna (Macdonell) Olsen, founded the Central Interior Highland Dancing Association in 1975, an association which is still active today in more that one interior BC community.

After graduating from the University of BC, Carolyn became an investment advisor, and was in practice in Vancouver with international investment firms in Vancouver, then on Vancouver Island, for a total of eighteen years. Other than her "day job" as a business person, and raising her two daughters, Megan Phillips and Ceitinn Cusson, Carolyn continues to adjudicate, guest teach, and conduct workshops. She is frequently called upon to be involved with both the business and artistic facets of community and arts projects.

Born in Montréal, the daughter of an RCAF pilot, Carolyn spent almost half of her childhood before the age of ten in Europe, where she began ballet and piano lessons. Upon her family's return to Canada, Carolyn was eleven years old before she had her first Highland Dancing lesson. Maya Dillon (Vandenburg), in Ottawa, was her first teacher. In spite of her late start, she won her first Ontario Championship at age thirteen, and went on to become Eastern Canada Champion, Great Lakes Champion, Western U.S. Champion, runner-up BC Champion, Canadian Interprovincial Champion and this only time she had a chance to dance in Scotland before retiring from competition, was a World Championship finalist. She competed and won titles until she was 25 years old. Being an air force brat whose family took her from Ottawa to Toronto, then to British Columbia, had its benefits. Carolyn considers herself very fortunate to have trained with many of the Canada's greatest Highland teachers during her competitive career, including: the late Gladys Forrester, Margo Coutts, the late Evelyn Murray, Donna Jean Ritchie (Ostrander), the late Judith Schey, Dell Hill, Gail Danysk, Heather Jolley, and the late Dorothy Christie.

Carolyn's community, business and artistic endeavours have been extensive. She has been a trust company delegate for the Estate Planning Council of BC. Carolyn served for eight years as corporate fundraiser, then a Governor, on the Board of Directors for Ballet British Columbia, Canada's fourth largest professional dance organisation. She has been a top corporate fundraiser for the United Way. She was appointed Artistic Director for the BC Summer Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies 2002. As a presenter, she has hosted a Vancouver TV business show, and acted, sung and danced in many musical theatre productions and on television. She is currently on the Board of the Victoria Highland Games and Dance Director /Choreographer for Pacific Tattoo, whose inaugural tattoo will be July 2012.

However, her largest and most challenging undertaking of this nature the past decade has been as Principal of The Pacific Institute of Piping & Celtic Performing Arts and Executive and Artistic Director of CeltFest Vancouver Island, which she produces with her husband, piper and composer, René Cusson. In between producing arts endeavours and community events, she makes time to open and operate her dance school year-round, the Glengarry School of Celtic Dance, on Vancouver Island BC. This is important to here to keep the traditions alive.

 Carolyn Phillips Cusson
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