Our Team

The Gemma Short School of Dance & Theatre Arts has assembled a team of well qualified and experienced professionals to provide the highest quality tuition possible; see the team's biographies below for more information.

Gemma Short - LISTD, CDE

Principal of Gemma Short School of Dance & Theatre Arts


Miss Gemma is a fully qualified teacher of Ballet, Tap, Modern, Jazz and National Dance and holds Licentiate and Certificate of Dance Education qualifications with the ISTD.


Gemma trained at the Judith Hockaday School of Dance and enjoyed experiences such as competing at regional festivals, the Janet Cram Awards (modern), Marjorie Davies Awards (tap), Imperial Ballet Awards and Grandison Clark Awards (national), as well as the All England Finals. 


Gemma has performed with a number of groups in Swindon, as both a dancer and in principal roles; a performing highlight was dancing at the London Palladium with Wayne Sleep!  Gemma gained a full scholarship to London Studio Centre, however chose to pursue her professional teacher training. Gemma has taught as a guest teacher for a number of Dance schools, including: Annette Adams School of Dancing in Bristol, The Sue Taylor Dance Academy in Banbury, Wootton Bassett School of Dance, St Hughes School in Oxford, and for 11 years as a full time teacher at The Judith Hockaday School and College.  Gemma is also currently a guest teacher for the Wilkes Academy 16+ vocational course.


Gemma has significant choreographic experience and has been awarded the Choreographic Award at the Bristol Eistedford and Best Group and Best Performance awards at the Wiltshire Festival of Dance. Gemma has also choreographed for competitive figure skating and regularly choreographs for a number of local musical theatre performances; in 2016 Gemma was nominated for a NODA Award for Outstanding Choreography in the South West for a production of 'The Wizard of Oz.'


Gemma established her own Dance and Theatre Arts School in April 2013; the success of the school, as well as future projects, can be seen in the 'Student Successes' and 'GSS News' pages of this website.

Jessica-Jo Marshall 

Dance Teacher


Miss Jess graduated from the prestigious Elmhurst School for Dance in association with Birmingham Royal Ballet in 2013.  Within her time at Elmhurst she spent periods of time training with the Rambert Company and the Ailey School in New York, as well as training, competing and choreographing for the England Tap Team and performing with the Tap Attack Company.  


Jessica-Jo currently teaches regularly across the country and undertakes various teaching assignments over the globe, which have taken her as far as Hawaii!


Having gained a Level 6 Diploma in Dance, Jessica-Jo now combines her teaching with studying for a BA in Arts Management.  


Jessica-Jo joined the teaching team at the Gemma Short School of Dance & Theatre Arts in September 2014.

Russell Langdown - BA, QTS,

Drama Teacher


Russell trained locally in dance, drama and voice and has performed since a young age, regularly taking principal roles in musical theatre productions; for SALOS he has performed a number of lead roles, including: The Beast (Beauty & the Beast) and Jesus (Jesus Christ Superstar).


Russell is an experienced Director and since 2007 he has been invited to direct SALOS' main productions at the Wyvern Theatre - most recently, "Legally Blonde" (Oct 2017).  Russell is proud that many of his productions have been nominated and shortlisted for NODA’s 'Best Operatic or Musical Production' Award, and 'Visual Excellence' Awards for the South West, and 'Sister Act' (October 2015) also won an Achievement Award Russell is regularly invited to direct musicals and plays for a number of groups in the region and has also enjoyed providing consultative advice on original pieces of work.


Russell has directed plays entered for the Swindon’s One Act Play Festival (winning Best Youth & Best Original Productions).  Russell prepares students for LAMDA examinations, as well as auditions for advanced Arts training or professional work.  He staged Sheila Harrod's 70th Birthday Concert at the Arts Centre, and has designed the lighting for the Kentwood Choir's annual concerts at the Wyvern Theatre.  Russell regularly directs for groups in Swindon, he particularly enjoyed co-directing a Wiltshire premiere: 'Sunset Boulevard’ for R&J Musicals at the Swindon Arts Centre, in which he also played the lead role of Joe Gillis, and most recently 'Fiddler on the Roof' for R&J Musicals at the Arts Centre.


Russell is currently directing 'Oklahoma!' which will be performed at the Wyvern Theatre by SALOS in October 2018.


Russell has led the Drama training at the Gemma Short School of Dance & Theatre Arts since the school opened in April 2013.

Amy Speight - Dip LCM, ALCM
Singing and Musical Theatre Teacher
Miss Amy has received singing tuition with The Janice Thompson Performance Trust (JTPT) since the age of 2, and she is now a teacher at the trust, preparing children for singing and musical theatre exams, and conducting them as they perform in many concerts around Swindon and further afield. Most notably, Amy was the Junior Conductor for the Trust's production of "Swindon The Opera". Amy has Grade 8 singing qualifications with The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, and Dip LCM and ALCM diplomas in Music Theatre performance with The London College of Music. Amy was recently the Chorus Mistress for the children performing in Ray Dance and Judith Sharp's production of "The Sound Of Music" and led the children's workshops for the casting of SALOS' recent production of 'Oliver!'
Amy has significant performance experience and is a member of SALOS for whom she has played a number of principal roles, incuding: Chava (Fiddler on the Roof), Lily (Annie) and Mrs Sowerberry in 'Oliver!' all at the Wyvern Theatre.  For JTPT, Amy performed the challenging role of The Baker's Wife (Into the Woods), and previously Amy was a member of The National Youth Choir of Great Britain, where she took part in many concerts around the country including the choir's 21st Anniversary concert at the Birmingham Symphony Hall.
Amy has led the Musical Theatre & Singing training at the Gemma Short School of Dance & Theatre Arts since the school opened in April 2013.


Ellie Lawrence - BA

Drama Teacher


Ellie graduated from the British Institution of Modern Music in 2016.  During her time there she specialised in the importance of creating drama, emotion and acting through song.


Ellie has studied LAMDA exams and gained Grade 8 in Musical Theatre performance with The London College of Music.


In addition to her studying, Ellie has also competed in several festivals, including Swindon and Camden fringes, where the plays she performed in won awards for Best New Writing and Best Newcomer. She also took on the role of Hermia in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', as part of the Royal Shakespeare Festival in Straford Upon Avon.  In 2013, Ellie performed as part of a two-man play in the world premier of 'To Sleep.'  This resulted in a stint in the West End and a tour of theatres across the UK.


Ellie joined the teaching team at the Gemma Short School of Dance & Theatre Arts in September 2017.

Lauren Hume - DDI

Dance and Acro for DanceTeacher


Miss Lauren teaches ISTD Imperial Ballet, Tap and Modern; she completed her DDI qualifications in tap and modern and is working towards her DDE in both disciplines.  Lauren is a fully certified and qualified Module One Acrobatic Dance Teacher.  She achieved her ISTD Advanced 2 exams in Modern and Tap, and Advanced 1 in both ISTD and RAD ballet.  


Lauren began training, aged four, at Swindon Academy of Dance.  During this time she was a gold medal winner at the All England Finals and went on to compete in the ISTD Ballet Awards, Janet Cram Awards and The Marjorie Davis Tap Awards.  Lauren joined the tap company, Tap Attack, in 2010 and was a member for 2 years.  Whilst a company member, Lauren appeared on Sky 1's 'Got to Dance' and competed at the IDO World Tap Championships in Germany, winning a silver medal in the prestigious Adults Formation category representing England. 


In 2014, Lauren joined The Wilkes Academy College of Performing Arts as a full time student studying for a Diploma in Musical Theatre.  During her time there, Lauren has the opportunity to perform at 'Move It'. 


Lauren joined the Gemma Short School of Dance & Theatre Arts teaching team in 2015. 

Contact us

Gemma Short School of Dance & Theatre Arts


25 Victoria Road  




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Tel: 01793 847567

Mob: 07788 244732

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