History of Carlson's School of Dance

Thank you Mrs. Carlson for your vision and your passion for dance.

When Margaret Carlson started her dance studio in the attic of her home in 1954 did she foresee that it would still be thriving over half a century later?

Started in the 1954/55 season with her friend and co teacher Irene Thornton, the school was called the Duncan Studio of Dancing. Margaret's husband Al removed some walls in the upper storey of their house at 810 Marchmont Road to make room for a dance studio. Deborah Carlson recalls that the sound of a piano playing and tap shoes tapping above their heads was normal accompaniment to their evening meals!

Reading back through newspaper articles and watching old recital movies and videos you get the feeling that although Mrs .C is no longer here the school continues with a spirit and a philosophy that she would recognise.

Margaret described herself as a "workshop freak".

Always continuing her dance education and keeping up to date with the latest dance styles. Over the years, she attended the Banff School of the Arts, workshops in L.A, San Francisco and New York and spent 2 years as a mature student at the University of Victoria studying creative dance and costuming courses.

The teachers and dancers of Carlson's today continue in her footsteps with ongoing training, here and abroad, and many trips to workshops and conventions in order to upgrade and improve their dance and teaching skills.

Right from the beginning Mrs. Carlson mounted an elaborate recital every year. The first show featured a tableau where an elderly ballerina remembered her experiences through her career with memories portrayed in the various ballet classes. The shows were usually held on the Cowichan Secondary School stage but became a regular spring time feature at the Cowichan Theatre when it opened in 1979.

Carlson's School of Dance as it is now known continued to grow and moved with the Carlson family to a converted garage studio on Ryall road. A few years later another studio was added at Berkey`s corner at the top of Sherman Road and the school was well on its way to becoming the dance studio it is today. Mrs. Carlson sadly died in 1997 and the school was briefly run by her daughter Deborah who took the school to the next level with studio space at the Cowichan Community Centre.

In the year 2000 Carlson's was bought by Reija Best, Pam Hicks, Kim Robb and Joyce Scott.

These dedicated teachers put their heart and soul into the studio to provide a place to fall in love with dance.  They continued to provide new experiences for students and offer more lessons for a wider range of ages, abilities, and styles. 

In the 2011 season, Carlson's continued to grow by adding another space; giving Carlson's 4 studios in which to teach and inspire.

Ricki-Lee Allison joined the ownership team in the Fall of 2018. 


Carlson's Dance is now owned in part by Reija Best, Ricki-Lee Allison, and Kim Robb. Pam and Joyce are still very involved members of our studio family but have now made more time for their own families.   We are proud to continue in Mrs. Carlson`s footsteps with 4 studios, 12 teachers, and hundreds of students ages 1.5 to adult. Students are entered for dance exams on a yearly basis and the elaborate recital that was always presented is still a current feature on at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre stage every spring.

Thank you Mrs. Carlson for your vision and your passion for dance, may that passion live on through the school that will always bear your name!