(Dancers who have performed with us in the past year)

Karen Billmers Cotting
Michelle Hurst
Kelly Kort
Abbie MacQuarrie
Karen Campbell Mahoney
Victoria Major
Robert McOwen
Aileen Ritchie
Jen Schoonover
Gregor Williamson

Karen Billmers Cotting

Karen was raised on international folk dancing. By age 16, she was almost exclusively doing Scottish country dancing where she met Robert McOwen and began taking highland dance. She has retired from competing, and enjoys performing whenever time allows. Her tartan is Special Dress Blue Menzies.

Karen also loves fiddling for Scottish country dance classes. She has been playing the violin since she was eight and Scottish fiddle since age ten. She played as a street musician in Harvard Square with her identical twin sister, Debbie. Karen is about to graduate from University of Massachusetts Medical School and continue her medical training as a pediatrician.

Michelle Hurst   (Member SDTA, 2008)

Michelle started Highland Dancing at the age of eight and began competing at the age of 10, under the direction of Pat McMaster (Ontario, Canada). At 14, she also began performing with the Skara Brae Dancers under the direction of Paulina McMaster. Over the years, Michelle has danced in many different shows, competitions, and championships in Canada, the USA, and Scotland. Highlights include performances at Disney World and competing at the Cowal Highland Games in Scotland. She has also danced with Canadiana Celtic performing in the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in 2008. Michelle holds her Members in Highland and National technique with the SDTA and currently teaches highland dancing with Karen Mahoney. Michelle wears Dress Blue Lindsay.

Michelle lives in Boston, MA and is a graduate student at Boston College.

Kelly Kort  (Member BATD, 2013)

Kelly started dancing at the age of 8 in her home state of Vermont, mostly with the Heather Morris School of Dance. After College she moved to the Boston Area and now takes classes with Cathie Peitzsch-Gibbs and Robert McOwen. Her tartan is Burgundy Longniddry.

She currently works at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Abbie MacQuarrie

Abbie started dancing at the age of four with ballet, jazz, and tap. She began Highland dancing at the age of eight with Karen Mahoney and since there her repertoire has expanded to include Cape Breton step dancing, Irish step dancing and fiddle. She competed for ten years, but has since retired and focuses primarily on performing. While studying Celtic Studies at the University of Edinburgh, she performed throughout Scotland and Europe and taught both fiddle and step dancing. Abbie also received her Masters in Music Performance at Newcastle University. Although a MacQuarrie, she wears the Red Dress McRae.

Now living back in the Boston area, Abbie works as a travel consultant at Liberty Travel.

Karen Campbell Mahoney   (Member BATD, 2000)

Karen hails from Kearny, N.J., where she began dancing at the age of 4 under the tutelage of the late Mrs. Mary Stewart. In 1986, she won the U.S. Inter-Regional Highland Dancing Championships. At the Braemar Highland Gathering in Scotland, which is attended annually by members of the royal family, Karen won the Best Overseas Dancer in 1988. At the tender age of 9, Karen danced in a made-for-TV movie starring Bette Davis called "Family Reunion." Her most notable performances were with The Christmas Revels in Cambridge, New York, and Washington, D.C. from 1990-1993. Karen moved to Brookline, MA in 1993, and has been teaching in the Boston area since. She teaches The Boston Highlanders, many of whom are members of Highland Dance Boston. Karen wears the Green Dress McKellar.

She and her husband, Terence, are the proud parents of two children, Cora and Iain, who are not yet old enough to join HDB.

Victoria Major   (Member BATD, 2009)

Victoria (Tori) started dancing at the age of 10 with Gail Bacon in Southern Maryland. In 2004 she moved to Providence to attend college and obtain an Accounting degree; at that time she began taking lessons from Cathie Peitzsch-Gibbs in CT. After college, Tori moved to the Boston Area, where she currently resides and teaches dance classes. She is competitive and enjoys the traveling and good friends that she has made through dance. Her tartan is Wallace Dress Blue.

Robert McOwen   (Member SDTA, 1987)

Robert began Scottish country and highland dancing in California in 1973 and moved to the Boston Area in 1979. He has performed highland dancing with many groups and in many venues (including a tour of Scotland with the Strathspey and Reel Society of New Hampshire in 1996), and has directed concerts with featured performers such as Jean Redpath and Alasdair Fraser. Between 1999 and 2006 Robert danced with Jen Schoonover in Bonnie Rideout's national touring show, A Scottish Christmas. His tartan is Dress Ancient Campbell of Argylle.

Robert resides in Arlington, MA, with his spouse Barbara, an accomplished fiddler; see their joint website, When he's not performing with HDB, Robert can be found at Northeastern University, where he is a faculty member in the Mathematics Department.

Aileen Ritchie   (Associate UKA, 2000)

Aileen is from the north east of Scotland and began dancing at the age of 5. She grew up in the village of Aboyne and was taught to dance by Robert (Bobby) Watson until his death in 1997. Aileen continued to dance throughout her youth and competed annually at the local highland games. Before leaving high school Aileen passed her teachers exam to qualify her as an associate member of the UKA. After graduating with a masters degree in electrical engineering from Edinburgh University, Aileen has moved to Massachusetts and is taking lessons with Robert McOwen. She has begun competing at highland games in the US and enjoys performing with HDB. Aileen frequently returns to Scotland to visit her family who all remain there.

Aileen resides in Somerville, MA and is currently employed as an electrical engineer in a semi conductor company.

Jen Schoonover   (Associate BATD, 2005)

Jen has performed Highland dance at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and (on an ice skating rink) on Good Morning America. Her interest in the history of Scottish dance has led her to seek out dances from non-competitive traditions, and she is collaborating on research in highland dance history with Colin Robertson and Mats Melin. She also teaches Scottish Country Dance and Cape Breton Step and Set Dance. Jen’s photo features a kilt in the iconic Dress MacLeod tartan.

Also a modern dancer, Jen has choreographed for Theatre Catalyst and the People’s Light and Theatre in the Philadelphia area, Theater Outlet in Allentown, Pennsylvania, the Irondale Ensemble Project and Voice and Vision Theater in New York City, and for Back Porch Dance Company and the Willing Suspension Players in Boston.

Gregor Williamson

Born in Helensburgh, Scotland, Gregor has been dancing traditional Scottish country dance since his childhood and is currently a member and teacher in the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society. He first started Highland dancing a few years ago at Pinewoods summer dance camp and has studied under Robert McOwen ever since. Gregor wears the Dress Strathclyde tartan.

Gregor lives in Reading, Mass, with his wife Gyna, who also enjoys Scottish dancing. When he is not competing at Highland Games or performing on stage, Gregor works as a business administrator for a broadcast engineering company.

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