Branch Award 2011

Carole Skinner

Carole Skinner is a Toronto Association teacher who has gone out of her way to support existing Toronto social groups, to develop a new group, to help the Toronto Association and to promote Scottish country dancing in novel ways. Her earlier support of Scottish country dancing involved branches and Associations in other cities and this experience adds to the contribution recognized by the Toronto Association.

Carole began Scottish country dancing at school in Inverness in 1965. She was taught highland dancing when she came to Canada in 1966. While attending the RSCDS summer school in 1974 in St. Andrews Scotland, she danced the hornpipe for Miss Jean Milligan who called Carole "her little sailor boy". Bob Blackie and Betty and David Grant took Carole under their wings that summer. Carole went with her parents, Muriel and Roddy Nicoll, to the Scarborough Scottish Country Dance group. Later Carole and her husband danced under the guidance of Bob Millar as a member of the East York demonstration team.

After moving to Montreal in 1991, Carole became active in supporting the Montreal Branch of the RSCDS. She became a member of the committee for their annual weekend and later became Membership Secretary of the Montreal Branch. In 1993 she travelled to St. Andrews to take her preliminary teacher's test. In the fall of that year, she started the Montreal children’s group in the city of Dorval, Quebec. In July 1995, Carole moved to Tucson, Arizona and started teaching Scottish country dancing as one of three qualified teachers in the Tucson Branch. In 1997, by invitation of Ron Wallace, Carole went to San Francisco to take her teacher's certificate examination and received her teaching certificate there. While in Tucson she joined the 7 Pipers – a Scottish organization which promoted traditional music and dance of Scotland throughout the south western United States. She started as the highland dancing teacher but soon became their Program Director, choreographer and costume designer, making costumes for many of the stage dance numbers which featured both Scottish country and highland dancing. In 2002, Carole helped to organize a trip to Scotland for the members and dancers. They performed an old fashioned Scottish variety show with Scottish country and highland dancers in addition to the pipes and drums and their choral group. She served on the Tucson Branch's Board of Directors and helped to organize workshops and dancing events in the community. Carole became Chairman of the Tucson Branch in 1999 but had to resign when she was ready to return to Canada.

In August 2002, Carole returned to Toronto. Here Carole began teaching two different Scottish country social dancing groups, Petronella and South Simcoe. In 2003, she was invited to teach the newly‐formed Highlands of Durham group in Port Perry. Carole helped them become part of the Toronto Association the following year.

Carole served on the Teacher’s Panel of the Toronto Association from 2003 to 2009 and was elected Chair for two consecutive terms. She is designated to prepare the Toronto Association's monthly dance and Tartan Ball programs for the 2011‐2012 dancing year. Carole has been an appreciated teacher at beginners' classes held at St. Leonard’s Anglican church (2006‐2008) and Port Union Road (2009‐2010) for the Toronto Association. She has been invited to teach at several work‐ shops and weekends in Toronto (children's workshops), Alliston, Streetsville, Burlington, Kingston and Peterborough. Carole has also adjudicated the Toronto Association's Children’s Festival Day of Dance in 2006‐ 2010. In 2011 she has been invited to teach at the Toronto Youth weekend.

Carole has continued promoting Scottish country dancing through public performances. She has done so at the Senior’s Jubilee at Roy Thomson Hall 2003‐ 2008 and at the Uxbridge Highland Games 2006‐ 2008. She taught the cast of Brigadoon to dance a few numbers in the Scugog Choral Society's production in 2007. At the Sky Dome in Toronto in the summers of 2008 and 2009, she devised the choreography of Scottish country dancing, highland dancing with the 48th Highlanders Pipe Band and The Royal Marine Band, for the Scottish appreciation day at the Toronto Blue Jays baseball game. The resulting St. Andrew's cross dance set formation on the baseball field was generally regarded as an exceptional display which drew on a significant number of dancers from Toronto and across Ontario. Over the last decade she has coordinated Burns' Night demonstrations with the Petronella group at seniors' homes and festivals in the Thornhill and Richmond Hill areas of greater Toronto producing special costumes for dancers and doing the dance arrangements. She has also done dance segments in several variety shows. This has significantly supported the mandate of the Toronto Association to promote Scottish country dancing in the Toronto area:

Shows: Stewart and Friends 2005‐2006; Celtic Celebration (Richmond Hill) 2007; Lindsay Tattoo 2008; Oshawa Celtic Festival 2007 & 2009; Seniors' Jubilee Peterborough 2009.

Community Demonstrations: Kleinberg Binder Twine Festival 2002‐2004; Thornhill Village festival 2003‐2005, 2007, 2009; Unionville Heritage days 2006; Thornhill Presbyterian Church Burns' Dinner 2003‐2010; Paws Ways Scottish heritage weekend at Harbourfront 2009; Red Hatters' Scottish Dance Day Mount Albert 2007; Bob Rumball Centre for the Deaf Volunteer Dinner 2010; Clan MacPherson Gathering; Clan Campbell Gathering; Scottish Studies Group U of T.

Seniors' Homes: annual demonstrations at many seniors' homes in Markham, Unionville, Newmarket, Aurora, Richmond Hill, Thornhill, and Northern Toronto; in 2009 Petronella did 16 Burns' Suppers for seniors' homes and are already booked for many of the same venues for 2010.

In the fall of 2008, 2009 and 2010, Carole worked with Stewart Bennett to organize and take a group of people from the Toronto Association on memorable Scottish country dancing tours of parts of Scotland. Dancing in castles, on the islands, on the deck of the Royal Yacht Britannia and dancing with members of dance groups in various towns in Scotland.