Rhona Lawrence


Rhona started teaching highland dance at a young age when she taught a class of 20 pupils once a week in the home village of New Pitsligo. Over 40 years on, Rhona teaches at  least five times a week to well over 100 pupils in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire and her school has reached championship status.  She has produced countless pre-champion and champion dancers, many of which she has trained through professional exams including teachers, members, fellowship and judges. She is constantly involved in promoting highland dance at every level whether it be as an organizer of events such as competitions, championships, displays and fundraisers.  Highland dance has taken Rhona all over the world teaching, judging and lecturing, always representing Scotland, the Lawrence Dance Academy and the UKA.

Rhona is Principal Director of The Lawrence Dance Academy.  She is a Member of the BATD, SDTA and a SOBHD delegate, Convener of the Technical Committee and a Fellow, Examiner and was Vice President of UKA for 11 years. After being voted by the membership of UKA Dance to the position of President Elect, in June 2019, Rhona took on the position of President of the international body. Rhona is the organisation’s first ever President from the Highland branch. As Chairperson of the UKA Highland Division, Rhona runs and organises events including the Annual Conference in Aberdeen, which has become the biggest gathering of Teachers of Highland Dance in Scotland.  She has been heavily involved in the achievement of SQA and QCF Credits for the UKA, which is fantastic recognition of Highland Dance in Scotland and England.  She is also organiser of the City of Aberdeen Championship, United Kingdom Championship, and Secretary of the Commonwealth Championship, Chairperson of Grampian Festivals and promotes many other events throughout the season, including involvement in many Highland Games.

Rhona was also a key driving force is the setting up and organising of the International Gathering of Scottish Highland Dance annual event in Disneyland Paris, alongside the company Take Us 2 The Magic and Billy Forsyth MBE, and is now the organiser of the Paris International Highland Gathering Championship.

Jan-Louise Doherty


Jan passed her Highland and Scottish National judges is 2016 and is the daughter of Rhona. Jan competed successfully in Highland and National for many years before hanging up her pumps to focus on teaching. Jan is a fellow, and now examiner, of the UKA.

James Watt


James is a product of the acclaimed Shetland Youth Theatre. A member from 2000 until 2009, James performed in huge variety of plays and stand-alone performances. James excelled in drama, comedy, physical theatre and stage combat. James’ time with SYT included performances in Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre and The Olivier Stage in the National Theatre, London.

In 2006, through SYT’s parent organisation, Shetland Arts, James found the opportunity to try Contemporary dance and never looked back.

James has since worked with countless professional companies including Martial Dance, Dance Ihayami and renowned choreographers, Lisa Sinclair, Martin Robinson and Andy Howitt, among others.

James came to the Lawrence Dance Academy in 2012 and his performance experience, physicality and strength & conditioning knowledge are a key asset to the Academy.

James is a member of the UKA in Drama and Freestyle dance.

In 2015, James choreographed “Be Our Guest” with Rhona & Jan, a routine which won ‘Best Musical Interpretation’ at the Choreo-Magic Competition at the International Gathering of Scottish Highland Dance at Disneyland Paris. James was again the principal choreographer in 2016 where the Academy presented two routines- “Let’s Get Down To Business”, based on the song “I’ll Make A Man Out Of You” from Mulan and “That Feline Beat”, based on “Everyone Wants To Be A Cat” from the Aristocats. He has also choreographed “The Edge of The Water”, based on “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana.

In 2015, James choreographed for the dance academy a dark, Halloween-based performance, which the pupils danced at the Shell Aden-Een event. At the following year’s event, James directed the Peterhead Youth Theatre in an open world presentation of some of Shakespeare’s best known speeches. Both products received critical acclaim.