The McPherson Dance Studio offers a variety of dance classes for adults and children in Berwick Upon Tweed and Edinburgh.  We cater for all ages and abilities and everyone is very welcome to join us at any time.  

Classes are held in Berwick Upon Tweed at the following venue:-

  • Berwick Baptist Church, Golden Square, Berwick-Upon-Tweed, TD15 1BG

Classes are held in the North East Side of Edinburgh at the following venue:-

  • Willowbrae Parish Church/New Restalrig Church, 1a Willowbrae Road, Edinburgh, EH8 7DB

Classes are held in East Lothian at the following venue:-

  • The Carriage House, Pencaitland Parish Church, East Lothian

We offer the following classes and dance styles:-

The Royal Ballet School Affiliated Teacher Training: Ballet

The Royal Ballet School’s Affiliate Training and Assessment Programme (‘ATAP’) is unique. It offers a new model of recreational dance education and training that is relevant to children of today.

Appreciating the need for students to be able to learn the art of ballet as a whole rather than memorising an examination syllabus, ATAP empowers teachers as practitioners, giving them the responsibility for guiding and assessing their own students’ learning. Acknowledging the growth in digital media, as well as the necessity to reduce our carbon footprint, it allows assessment to be predominantly free from the constraints of examiner availability, costs and the environmental impact of travel.

Unlike the syllabi examinations offered by dance organisations worldwide, ATAP offers a significantly different approach to dance training for teachers and their students:

  1. ATAP is a training and assessment programme, not an examination syllabus. The ethos, and hence operation, focus on training rather than examination. It puts the students at the centre of the learning process.
  2. Students are offered varying levels of study, where the assessment of learning is offered via teacher assessment, which is then video recorded and sent to be moderated in-house at The Royal Ballet School. This promotes the responsibility and expertise of the teacher to make informed decisions as to their students’ progress and negates the need for examiners to physically be in attendance.
  3. Teacher Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is implicit within the programme. Teachers are given guidance with ongoing monitoring and moderation of their students’ assessment results. As a result, teachers will grow with experience, learning how to accurately reflect upon their students’ progress and their own understanding of classical ballet and their pedagogical skills.


  • To provide a unique training programme that values the process of learning more than the product
  • To progress and develop the standard of recreational dance teaching to provide a positive and holistic learning experience that is unrivalled throughout the world
  • To provide learning that is process-driven and relevant to the child of today where both teachers and students value and enjoy dance education, training and the process of learning
  • To provide a training programme that promotes the core values of The Royal Ballet School.


  • Student focused: students are at the heart of everything we do and their training and welfare are the basis of all decisions
  • Innovative and pioneering we are a bold, forward-thinking organisation and bring this approach to all areas of our work with the utmost integrity
  • Promoting excellence: we maintain the highest standards of excellence in classical ballet training
  • Training versatile dancers: our highly-skilled dancers are able to adapt to a broad range of styles
  • Respectful of our heritage: we ensure the rich heritage of the School is at the heart of our training
  • Team teacher: we support each other, creating a warm, nurturing environment for students to maximise their potential
  • Nurturing of students: we are respectful of our dancers as aspiring artists and as individual, intelligent human-beings
  • Faithful to our core mission: providing students with the best possible all-round dance education and in so doing opening up their opportunities beyond ballet
  • Fair treatment and opportunity for all: EDI is embedded within all operational activity and teaching.


ATAP aims to provide both teachers and students with a programme of study that is innovative, flexible, and diverse. ATAP has been devised and is managed by The Royal Ballet School. Teachers, parents, and students can be assured of quality provision that is driven by The Royal Ballet Schools’ core values.

  • Students who participate in the programme should expect to gain:
  • A love, passion and knowledge of the art form as a whole
  • Enjoyment of the learning process
  • A solid technical foundation both in balletic and generic movement skills
  • An understanding and appreciation of classical ballet repertoire
  • The ability to work creatively and with imagination and purpose
  • The ability to develop problem-solving, observing, and evaluation skills
  • Social skills and the ability to work as part of a team.

The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD): Ballet

The McPherson Dance Studio follows The Royal Academy of Dance’s internationally recognised portfolio of examinations and assessments designed to encourage, motivate and reward students of all ages and abilities, outlining a progressive structure for learning and achievement in dance.

Students start with the Dance to Your Own Tune curriculum, move through Pre-Primary and Primary levels and then into eight Graded and six Vocational Graded levels. Students can move from Graded Examinations to Vocational Graded Examinations at an appropriate time; or they can study both pathways simultaneously.  Vocational Students should ideally be attending at least three hours of ballet study a week.

The graded ballet examinations consist of three dance disciplines:

Ballet – the foundation and the most important part of the syllabus

Free Movement – it has been influenced by and incorporates movements in common with other dance styles such as Natural Movement, Contemporary and Classical Greek Dance

Character – the theatrical presentation of national dance using original ethnic dance and music which has been freely adapted for the theatre. The three styles — Hungarian, Russian and Polish — were selected because of their historic importance in the development of the nineteenth century full-length classical ballets.

Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance (ISTD): Modern Theatre (“Jazz Fusion”)

The McPherson Dance Studio follows the ISTD syllabus for Modern Theatre.  The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD) is one of the world’s leading dance examination boards.

Modern Theatre dance is a rhythmic dance style which originated in America before travelling to the rest of the world.  It is often seen on the stages of musical productions and is known for its theatrical qualities.  The style uses travelling steps, high kicks, leaps and turns which all need strength and flexibility.  This is a highly energetic dance style.

At The McPherson Dance Studio we combine our Modern Theatre classes with commercial and contemporary dance styles to create a Jazz Fusion class.

Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance (ISTD): Tap Dance

Tap Dance is an exciting, percussive, rhythmical dance form. The dancer uses their feet to strike the floor, beating out a melody, with tap shoes which have small metal plates on the toe and heel to give the distinctive sound. Tap dance is a theatrical art form often seen on screen and stage in musicals. The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing Tap exams and Medal Tests are recognised internationally for their quality and excellence.

Rambert Grades: Contemporary

Rambert Grades: Training that empowers

Rambert Grades is a new holistic training, promoting transferable skills, and developing the whole individual. It’s inclusive and accessible to all, regardless of ability and prior experience. It inspires creativity and encourages dancers to make choices and develop their own interpretation of movement.

The Rambert Grades syllabus has three pillars:
– Performance, including original solo material from leading choreographers.
– Creativity, to encourage self-development and a sense of self enterprise.
– Technique, to support students’ dancing.
Developed by a leading team of experts from Rambert and Rambert School with some of the most dynamic and relevant voices of contemporary dance in the UK – including material devised for the syllabus by Hofesh Shechter, Alesandra Seutin and Benoit Swan Pouffer. Rambert Grades is a new benchmark in contemporary dance training and education where examination is just part of a journey that enables and develops talent.

View more here:

The Urdang Theatre and Dance Syllabus: Musical Theatre

The Urdang Theatre and Dance Syllabus (UTDS) evolved from the Urdang brand which is synonymous with the delivery of high-quality performing arts training.

Following years of successfully training students to be employed in the industry, Urdang has recognised the need for an innovative and modern progression for aspiring musical theatre and dance performers. The progressive grade structure has been devised following industry and educational consultation. As a leading brand and training provider Urdang applies its longstanding commitment to the quality standards, approval and currency of this suite of examinations.

Urdang Theatre and Dance Syllabus was created to offer up to date, industry relevant and well-rounded training programmes in various areas of Dance and Musical Theatre. With a wealth of both industry and educational knowledge, the Urdang Syllabus team have used their years of combined experience to ensure that each step of their syllabi is at the appropriate pace and level for the candidate, encourages safe practice in both dance and vocal studies, promotes in-depth study and understanding and gives candidates the freedom of independent study and opportunity to express their individual performance style.

Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance (ISTD): Contemporary

Contemporary Dance stems from the core, or torso, of the body and uses elements of contract, release, spiral, floor work, fall and recovery, and improvisation. This evolving style has fast become one of the most dominant genres for dancers throughout the world.

Contemporary dance history has its roots in the 20th century when American dancers rebelled against the strict rules of ballet in order to develop a more natural way of dancing. What is called ‘Contemporary Dance’ in Britain grew out of the ‘Modern Dance’ that arose in Central Europe and the USA. Thus, important here, amongst others in Central Europe, were Rudolf Laban, Harold Kreutzbeg and later Mary Wigman and Kurt Joss. In the USA there were Ruth St, Denis and Ted Shawn, Isadora Duncan and later Doris Humphrey, Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham and Robert Cohan. Always changing and ever-evolving, contemporary dance techniques encourage and reward creative freedom and artistic expression.

Created by Dr Ross McKim, the well-known dancer, choreographer, philosopher, and Artistic Director of the Rambert School (from 1985–2015), the ISTD Contemporary dance syllabus is informed by Eastern concepts of subtle energy and draws influence from choreographers Graham, Hawkins and Cohan. This syllabus aims to introduce students to the fundamentals of Contemporary dance technique and performance by approaching different movement themes at each level, specially created solos and the inclusion of structured improvisation to enable students to explore, develop and create their own movement vocabulary.

BBODance: Musical Theatre

A fun, accessible, and engaging syllabus that prepares students for progression into Vocational Training in Musical Theatre and ultimately provides the groundwork for a potential career in the West End. Inspired by a range of musical productions from stage and screen, this all-encompassing genre draws on a huge range of characterisation and narrative to create versatile dancers with strong movement technique and expressive performance skills.

The movement vocabulary used in bbodance syllabi draws on current performance demands and supports students to refine footwork, clarity of line in the body, musical responsiveness, and artistic flair.

Progressing Ballet Technique Classes

Progressing Ballet Technique (PBT) is an innovative body-conditioning and strengthening programme that has been designed to enhance students’ technique in all forms of dance by focusing on training the muscle memory required.  It is an innovative programme that helps students with core strength, weight placement and alignment.  It helps with injury prevention and rehabilitation and enhances the ability of students to perform their best.

Find out more here.

Progressing Contemporary Technique Classes

Progressing Contemporary Technique is an innovative program created by Adam Blanch in conjunction with Progressing Ballet Technique, devised as a series of functional exercises to help you explore and develop freedom of movement. To bring awareness to the importance of finding articulation through your body and allowing that discovery to give you that enhanced sense of mobility in contemporary dance.

PCT focuses on activating muscles groups through a process of utilising resistance and strength training. Our aim is to help you achieve a sense of moving with resistance, but never a tension in the body.

With spine articulation being a major component of contemporary dance, we strive to give you a solid foundation from which the spine can explore its fullest range of suppleness and flexibility through the co-ordination of breath and musicality.

Each exercise has been specifically developed to focus on the fundamental elements of contemporary dance. This including contraction articulation, variations of transfer of weight and giving weight, floor connection, resistance stretching/strengthening, compression and expansion, and so on. The structure of the program itself has been designed to progress in complexity, yet offering a wide range of modifications, to ensure dancers of all levels can participate, challenge themselves and benefit from this innovative program.

Alixa Flexibility / Stretch 

A syllabus to encourage safe, smart stretching and guaranteed progression, The Alixa Flexibility syllabus has been carefully developed over 22 years with research consultation from experts in physiotherapy, sports medicine, massage therapy, rehabilitation, kinesiology and neurology.

With the Alixa Flexibility Certification, we offer safe flexibility and stretching methods with guaranteed progression at The McPherson Dance Studio. Our students’ bodies are far too precious to risk unsafe stretching practices that result in injuries which can reoccur and have an impact for the rest of their lives. With the growing trend of “tricks” and students being blindsided by a lot of the unsafe stretches seen on social media, it’s more important now than ever to ensure that parents and students alike are educated to understand that safety is key for injury prevention and a long and successful dance career. The Alixa Flexibility method aims to strengthen and encourage flexibility in students in a safe progressive way but never force or push beyond their limitations.

Darcey Bussell’s DDMIX Fitness 

Dance Fitness by Dame Darcey Bussell. The aim of DDMIX is to get people moving without being intimidated by the word ‘dance’ or the technicality of the steps, but instead to give a full body workout that is such fun that you don’t even notice that you are exercising. With the vast number of dance styles around the world to choose from, no one will ever get bored!

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