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Meet the AAPA Team

Rachel - the boss


“I love AAPA because it’s big enough to be able to sustain all our events and projects but small enough that all our staff know every student’s name. Satisfaction of the families who spend time with us – both parents and children – is the most important thing.”

After graduating from law at Aberdeen University Rachel Mearns drastically change direction, following her dreams and founding Aberdeen Academy of Performing Arts. She has been involved in establishing and judging ‘Gymnastique Magique’, a competition in Disneyland Paris and, more locally, launched Dance Compete Achieve, a competition for young performers. Rachel was also instrumental in establishing the UK-wide Terpsichore of the North ballet competition, which attracted top international industry judges. Rachel was founder and Princiapl of Aberdeen Academy of Performing Arts College (now called Aberdeen College of Performing Arts) for 10 years before passing the reins on to Jennifer. Rachel has most recently become a business mentor for Young Enterprise Scotland and is keen to encourage the youth of today to harness their entrepreneurial spirit and make their dreams come true.

Rachel’s qualifications include : Pre-primary to level 4/5 Ballet from American Ballet Theatre | Tap, Modern/Jazz, Theatre Craft Ballet Associate/ Licentiate qualifications with BATD and IDTA | Membership Highland with BATD | Fellowship Ballet with BATD | Musical Theatre Associate Performing diploma from Trinity College London | Musical Theatre Teaching Licentiate Diploma from Trinity College London | Anatomy and Physiology Diploma from IDTA | Level 1 and 2 pre-school gymnastics with Scottish/British Gymnastics | Level 2 and part level 3 Acrobatic gymnastics with Scottish/British Gymnastics | Level 1 and 2 in safe stretching with Alixa Flexibility

Sali, Sali
Sally Kindley

Pre-School / Musical Theatre / Acrobatic Gymnastics

“I love AAPA because I know we’re providing so much more than just a dance, musical theatre or gymnastics lesson. We’re teaching young people to work as part of a group that relies on each other.”Your child will love Sali’s energy and ideas, a result of her time acting in children’s theatre and being an entertainment team member for Thomson Holidays. Her great knowledge about anatomy and stretching for dancers and gymnasts will keep them safe.

First class BA (Hons) in Drama from the University of Sunderland | HND in Performing Arts from Liverpool Community College | ATCL Musical Theatre Performance Diploma from Trinity College London | Grade 8 in Musical Theatre from London College of Music | Licentiate Musical Theatre Teaching qualification Trinity College London | Level 1 Acrobatic Arts | Level 1 and 2 Acrobatic Gymnastics with Scottish/British Gymnastics | Anatomy and Physiology Diploma from IDTA | Injury and Prevention Certificate from AcroTrix | Level 1 and 2 in Safe Stretching with Alixa Flexibility

jennifer at AAPA
Jennifer McKinnon Magee

Agency Director / AAPA Casting & Talent Management

“I love AAPA because it offers so much opportunity for talented youngsters to follow their dreams, from getting into top London colleges after starting their career with AAPA to winning worldwide competitions to taking centre stage on the West End.”

From being a professional director, actor and singer to working with casting agents and behind the scenes in production, Jennifer is the person to represent your child and their emerging talent.

Performed professionally in the UK and US | Worked in TV, film, theatre, print and corporate film | Principal of Aberdeen College of Performing Arts | School drama teacher | BA (Hons) in theatre from Sam Houston State

University in Texas | Training in contemporary drama at Royal Academy of Dramatic Art | GTC Scotland Full Registration teaching certification | TEA teacher certification

Susan Williamson

Acrobatic Gymnastics Teacher

“I love AAPA because it gives me an opportunity to be so much more than just a teacher.
We’re models, mentors and social workers – almost like a third parent to many students.” 

Level 1 and Level 2 Acrobatic Gymnastics Scottish / British Gymnastics | Pre-School Gymnastics Scottish / British Gymnastics | Level 1 and 2 Safe Stretching Alixa Flexibility 


Alisdair Sneden

Singing & Musical Theatre Teacher

“I love AAPA because musical theatre offers so much more than just performing in or watching a show. Your children will be equipped with skills for school and beyond.”

Having kickstarted his singing career at the age of eight and since trained intensively and performed with big industry names, Alisdair couldn’t be better placed to guide your budding
singer, whether they’re interested in musical theatre, classical, pop or jazz.

Studied Music Education at the University of Aberdeen | Musical Theatre Diploma from London College of Music | Associate of Trinity College London | Studied voice under the guidance of John Dallas (Falkirk) and Kate Hughes (Aberdeen) | Backing vocals for West End and Films | Musical director at Giz Giz Youth Theatre | Official accompanist for NYCOS’ Aberdeen branch from 2014-19 | Choral director for Spectrum Singers (Kemnay, 2016-20) | Co-director for Chalmers Mackay youth theatre productions | Musical director for Ten Feet Tall’s Jack and the Beanstalk at Aberdeen Arts Centre (2018) |

Mark Cameron

Musical Theatre & Boys’ Dance Teacher

Mark received a classical training in acting at the RCS in Glasgow (formerly the RSAMD) graduating in 2005 with a BA in Acting. He also has a TQFE from the University of Aberdeen and holds GTC Registration for further education.

As an actor with over 20 years of experience, to date he has had an extensive career across theatre, television, commercials and film. He is also a theatre maker, producer,writer and filmmaker.

Mark is an associate artist with Ten Feet Tall Theatre (Aberdeen) and a partner in Bradgate Films (Leicester).

an AAPA instructor
Taylor Moir

Street / Commercial Dance

“I am very excited to be part of Team AAPA, teaching students Street Dance/Hip-Hop and various styles of commercial classes. I love the energy that comes from our classes every week”

Taylor studied Professional Stage Dance at the MGA Academy of Performing Arts. She has worked professionally in the performing arts and commercial industry for many years touring many countries and featuring in television and music videos. She is now back home in Aberdeen after her most recent job in Marrakech, where she performed various shows at the famous Buddha Bar cabaret club.

an AAPA instructor
Samuel Downing

Dance Conditioning & Stretch Coach

“I adore the students at AAPA. They are always full of energy and have the ability to learn new skills quickly. It’s a pleasure being a small part of their Dance & Performance training.”

Qualifed Exercise professional with a background in dance, and author of The Little Book of Stretches & The Little Book of Strength. Samuel Downing Personal Trainer is passionate about athletism connected to artistry, Samuel methods are safe and proven to help create champion dancers with long careers. 

Samuel’s main objective is to enhance the dancer with their training in a safe and encouraging way. Education first, working on weaknesses second, then building up to their goals. 

Samuel currently tours internationally with his wife, Rosina Andrews; offering dancer conditioning group sessions, one to one sessions for dancers online and in-person. 

Lauren Smith

Contempory Teacher

Lauren started her professional training at Dance Studio Scotland (DSS), Glasgow, where she gained the foundations in Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Street, and explored Contemporary in-depth. Within Contemporary; Cunningham, Limon and Graham techniques were covered.

Through the exploration of Contemporary at DSS, she wanted to specialise in Contemporary and went on to study her degree at The Scottish School of Contemporary Dance (The Space), Dundee.  The Space explores Cunningham technique, Release technique and Urban Contemporary with a strong foundation in ballet. Lauren gained her Bachelor of Arts Professional Dance Practice with a First Class Honours in 2022.


With Lauren fresh into the professional dance world she is excited to gain knowledge from other experienced dancers, see how her dance language can mature and come into her own and to help others find their love for dance