Ken McCarter Award for Distinguished NBS Alumni

Congratulations to the 2023 Ken McCarter Award Laureates!

Named in honour of Ken McCarter, an NBS Board Director for eight years, the Ken McCarter Award for Distinguished NBS Alumni acknowledges contributions made by NBS alumni across all sectors and disciplines around the globe.


Canada’s National Ballet School is thrilled to announce the winners of the 2023 Ken McCarter Award for Distinguished NBS Alumni. This year, we celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments of researcher-educator Norma Sue Fisher-Stitt and expert physiatrist Paul Winston.

Norma Sue Fisher-Stitt

Norma Sue Fisher-Stitt

Class of 1970


Norma Sue Fisher-Stitt is one of this year’s recipients of the Ken McCarter Award for Distinguished NBS Alumni. Throughout her career as a teacher, author and researcher, Norma Sue has both helped preserve Canada’s unique dance history and explored innovative new ways to share the art form.


“My years at NBS are the absolute foundation of everything I’ve done,” she says. “There are so many personal qualities that are so crucial to success in any field that my years at NBS really instilled in me or made me understand the value of: respecting others, respecting yourself as well, but also resilience.”


From early on in her studies at York University, Norma Sue developed a keen interest in how dance is taught. She championed innovative approaches to improving how we support dance students on their learning journeys, including through early explorations of using digital technology. She emphasizes that dance education and pedagogy is always evolving.


She sees that NBS itself has evolved, too, and encourages alumni from around the world to keep in touch. “It’s a very special place. I always love going back to the School and seeing how it’s changed – it’s amazing to me how much it’s grown, and it’s wonderful!” she says.


“I would just encourage all alumni to come to alumni events and go back to the School. Just be open to all the ways the School has changed, and also to keeping in touch with all your colleagues that you grew up with.


Norma Sue’s advice for current NBS students: Maintaining your confidence in yourself and believing in yourself is so important. In the end, if you follow your path and you have a commitment, things will work out for you. I firmly believe that.

Paul Winston MD, FRCPC

Paul Winston MD, FRCPC

Class of 1989


Paul Winston (class of 1989) is the second recipient of this year’s Ken McCarter Award for Distinguished NBS Alumni. Paul draws on the joy of dance and movement in his work as an expert physiatrist, where he contributes to world-renowned innovations that help people with neurologic movement disorders.


As a young medical student following his performance career, Paul was moved by an encounter with a group of physiatrists that showed a deep appreciation for human connection. “Coming from the dance world, that’s what really got it for me,” he says.


“The motto of our specialty is ‘maximizing potential and restoration of function.’ You work with what you have. And that’s one of the things in the dance world: we’re all given a different body type, but as a dance teacher, you try to take whatever is in front of you and you inspire it to be as good as it can be” Paul says.


Paul notes that he’s remained closely in touch with his NBS classmates, many of whom have gone on to careers in the medical field and other professions. He believes that having the freedom of following their passion at a young age, through their NBS education, sets them up for particularly fulfilling life’s work.


“Everyone that I know who went through dance training that I now see as nurses and physiotherapists, as doctors, surgeons, people in accounting and different areas – really nobody regrets it. It really allows them to have a part of their career that really shines and makes them quite unique.”


Paul’s advice for current NBS students: Spend the time making sure you honour your love of dance. See how you can fulfill that, and follow it as long as you know it was the right decision. You will lose no time.

About the Ken McCarter Award

The Ken McCarter Award for Distinguished NBS Alumni was created in 2017, and is presented annually at the Professional Ballet-Academic Grade 12 graduation ceremony. Nominations for this award are submitted by members of the NBS community, primarily fellow NBS alumni, to recognize their peers for their commitment and contribution to the betterment of their communities through professional activities.


The award is named for W. Kenneth McCarter, an NBS board director for 8 years. During that time, he held the positions of Vice-Chair and Chair of Nominating and Board Governance and also served on the Finance & Audit and Human Resources Committees. He was also the board representative at the 2016 Global Alumni Symposium. Sadly, Ken passed away in April, 2017 - this award has been created to honour his memory and his commitment to NBS.


In what turned out to be his final year, Ken was the guiding force behind an important initiative that will serve the school into the future: the establishment of the position of chancellor, which was announced at the June, 2017 graduation. The board decided to establish the Ken McCarter Award for Distinguished NBS Alumni to honour Ken and connect his name to his abiding interest in the alumni of the School. 


Ken attended the 2016 Global Alumni Symposium, after which he gave a compelling address to the Board stating that it, “should be proud of the extremely accomplished alumni of the School … Many have accomplished amazing things and they all have potential to play a role as terrific ambassadors for the School.”


With this in mind, the award in Ken’s name is designed to acknowledge the important contributions to public service made by NBS alumni through a broad range of professional activities




  • Excellence: the nominee has demonstrated excellence in a chosen field of endeavour

  • Inspiration: the nominee’s accomplishments will serve as a source of inspiration for current NBS students

  • Public service: the nominee’s accomplishments have moved the world forward in a meaningful and distinctive way

  • Impact of NBS Education: the nominee’s chosen career path was influenced by the education received at NBS

  • Courage: the nominee has shown courage in following a particular path


Past Recipients

On and beyond the stage, across Canada and around the world, NBS alumni enrich their communities and break new ground in their chosen fields. The Ken McCarter Award is a way to celebrate their achievements and inspire the next generation of NBS grads.