City Ballet Theater

Meet Our Company Artists

Who We Are at City Ballet Theater

Emerson Mertens

Artistic Director, Principle Company Artist

CBT School InstructorAll Levels: Ballet, Pointe, Progressing Ballet Technique, Variations, Modern, Contemporary, Pas de Deux, Contemporary Partnering, Tap, Jazz, Musical Theater Dance

Emerson is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of City Ballet Theater School and Company. She has been teaching for over a decade at a variety of schools throughout the Midwest and Florida, as well as through her own online dance school, Emerson Online Studio, where she teaches students from all across the country.

Emerson graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Biblical and Theological Studies from Liberty University and continues to enhance her education through ongoing study of a variety of interests, including the arts and anatomy, which has helped her with her own personal experience as a dancer with fibromyalgia and hEDS.

Emerson is a Progressing Ballet Technique Certified Instructor (Junior, Senior, and Advanced), having trained in all levels of the program and successfully completed the PBT Certification Teachers Workshop under the direction of their Official Tutor of the USA, Robyn Segel Shifren.

Emerson has had the privilege of serving in top company positions over the years, including directing her own contemporary dance company, Anazao Dance, which she officially founded when she was only seventeen years old. At age nineteen, she became one of the youngest Ballet Mistresses of the Missouri Contemporary Ballet, teaching weekly company class for the professional company members.

Her other teaching credits include Missouri Contemporary Ballet School, Elevate Art in Kansas City, East Coast Ballet School in Florida, Muriel Battle High Arts Department, CoMotion Dance, and Studio B in Missouri. In the past Emerson has also been a teacher’s assistant to Bill Hotaling for his mini-jazz class at the 2009 Manhattan Dance Project workshop in Kansas City, as well as an instructor at East Coast Ballet Summer Intensive and Dance for the Theater Arts Intensive, designed to teach dance to young actors, singers, and musicians. She is currently an ongoing faculty instructor and choreographer for the Columbia Summer Ballet Intensive since 2018.

Emerson has also served as a judge and consultant for both program and production auditions with several arts organizations, including Battle Arts Department, Columbia Summer Ballet Intensive, and Steps Dance Studio in Missouri.

Her choreography has been featured in multiple productions throughout the years, including the Störling Dance Theater Artist Development Program Showcase, Reflections In a Puddle Arts Series, four of Columbia Summer Ballet Intensive’s showcases, two Dance for the Theater Arts Intensive showcases, Project Dance, and the Indiana University Intensive program, at which her Sherlock Holmes-inspired piece, Discombobulate, was chosen by the Chair of the Jacobs School of Music and Professor of Ballet Michael Vernon as the only student-choreographed work to be presented at the intensive showcase that year. She has also served as the sole choreographer for entire musical productions of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Disney’s Tarzan for Battle Arts Department, and has choreographed for several church performances, including the Christmas production Arrest These Merry Gentlemen and an Easter production of The Whip, Hammer, and Cross.

Throughout the past twenty years, Emerson has had the honor of performing with The Minnesota Ballet, Moscow Ballet, Lexington Ballet Company, Störling Dance Theater, VidaDance Company, Infinity Youth Company, the Kansas City Ballet School, and The Culture House Conservatory of the Arts. 

Emerson began her professional career with Störling Dance Theater in Kansas City as one of their youngest trainees at age 16. She also attended collegiate level ballet classes at the University of Missouri, Kansas City by invitation of Conservatory Dance Chair Paula Weber and trained with the Kansas City Contemporary Dance (Kacico) company as a summer apprentice. From there Emerson went on to become a full company member with VidaDance Company, East Coast Ballet Company, and Anazao Dance Company.

Lindsey Dinneen

Principle Company Artist

CBT School Instructor – All Levels: Specialty Workshops

Lindsey is originally from Northern Virginia, where she began her formal training at the Ravel Dance Studio. At the age of 13, she was invited to join the studio’s pre-professional Company, and performed multiple featured roles in Cinderella, Swan Lake, Coppelia, Giselle, The Nutcracker, and as Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty.

She then attended Mercyhurst College on scholarship, where she graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in Dance. While there, she trained in ballet, pointe, pas de deux, modern, jazz, tap, and conditioning, and attended a summer intensive in New York City with American Ballet Theater.

At Mercyhurst, she choreographed a piece about human trafficking that premiered at Raw Edges XIII, and it was also presented at the Project Abolition benefit concert she produced. Her piece If has been performed at school lecture/demonstrations and was invited to be presented at the National Dance Association’s annual conference gala in San Diego in April 2011.

During her time at college, Lindsey was presented with multiple awards, including the National Dance Association 2010 Student Literary Award & its 2011 Plaudit Award for contribution to the dance field. She also participated in the American College Dance Festival in 2010, performed in the Erie Festival of Dance twice, and in The Nutcracker with Lake Erie Ballet.

 Lindsey danced as a senior company member and soloist with Störling Dance Theater for four years. She has been featured in Mona Störling-Enna’s Ave VerumHung Out to Dry, and For Those Who Mourn, Tobin James’ Janjara, and was the soloist in The Prodigal Daughter “Tango.” She was a principal ballerina with Dramatic Truth Ballet Theatre for the 2015-2016 season, starring in The Mystery of Christmas and performing as a soloist in several other short ballets, including Brilliance.

 She was asked to be a founding member of Anazao Dance and also co-founder and dancer with Communitas. In 2013, she became a ballet expert for Nike’s and filmed the how-to video series “Dance & Conditioning.” She co-choreographed and danced in the Willow Tree promotional video for Susan Lordi’s sculpture Around You with Hanan Misko. She judged Olathe’s Got Talent for two years and has been a committee member for Arts Inspired Network’s Bravo Council since 2015, which awards scholarships for summer intensives to deserving high school students in the arts.

 She has been certified in the BeMoved methodology and Youth Protection Advocates in Dance. She has also taught creative movement, ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, contemporary & improvisation, modern, lyrical, leaps & turns, and acrobatics classes for all ages and levels at local studios, including for the studio she founded and owned from 2016-2020. From 2017-2019, Lindsey was the Kansas Ambassador for the National Dance Week Foundation, and with VidaDance, produced and hosted the annual National Dance Week Kansas City celebration. NDWKC is now under the leadership of VidaDancer, Jami Robben, and the tradition continues annually. 

 Alongside performing as a Company Artist with City Ballet Theater and choreographing for both the company and school, Lindsey has also been an adjunct professor at Johnson County Community College, teaching adult continuing education classes in tap, jazz, and ballet. She also teaches semi-private ballet, pointe, and jazz classes for select intermediate/advanced students, as well as online dance courses especially designed for those who’ve never taken a class before, including her signature “20 Moves in 20 Days” ballet, jazz, and tap online dance classes.

Jami Robben

Principle Company Artist

CBT School Instructor – All Levels: Specialty Workshops

Jami started gymnastics at age eleven and moved on to dance a few years later with Eagles Gymnastics’ dance fusion, training mostly in lyrical and jazz. She then trained in ballet, modern, jazz, tap, and hip hop at VidaDance Studio, and competed regularly in regional competitions where she placed in the top five overall in every competition she has ever entered, including winning first overall at Talent on Parade. She has also been invited to compete in TOP Starz Performance Group with Talent on Parade Nationals for three years in a row, as well as a dancer of the year semifinalist for Dance America. 

Jami is also a choreographer who has set pieces on VidaDance company members for National Dance Week Kansas City as part of its Catalyst program in 2017 & 2018 and has had two of her pieces performed in VidaDance shows at the KC Fringe Festival in 2016 & 2017. 

In late 2019, Lindsey Dinneen, director of VidaDance, invited Jami to be the new Director for National Dance Week Kansas City, which Jami has successfully organized, led, and grown for the last several years. She attended the University of Missouri where she was captain of the competition team, choreographing competition pieces that won almost every regional competition attended. Throughout college, Jami also taught at Columbia Performing Arts Centre where she was able to teach and assist guest choreographers like Andy Pellick. 

Jami joined VidaDance Company in 2015 and was promoted to a full company member in 2018. As a City Ballet Theater Company Artist, Jami now performs with the company and also works with the students in the City Ballet Theater School as a Workshop Instructor. 

Kailey Baker

Company Apprentice

CBT School Instructor – Dance Movement

Kailey began her dance training at a young age in Osage Beach, Missouri at Stonecrest Dance and Integrity Dance and Yoga, having trained in a variety of dance styles and disciplines. She then furthered her studies at Columbia Performing Arts Centre, the School of Missouri Contemporary Ballet, and college-level classes at Stephens College while still in high school. Her intensive training includes Credo Dance, Missouri Contemporary Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Columbia Summer Ballet Intensive, and the Joffrey Ballet Summer Intensive.

During high school, Kailey was a member of the MCB Youth Ensemble for three years and performed both original and classic works choreographed and staged by professional company dancers. While there, she also choreographed her own original pieces for the Youth Ensemble, with one of her works being highlighted by the company director and the professional members to be featured in their school production, Flourish.

As a Youth Ensemble member, some of Kailey’s featured performance roles include Diamond in Sleeping Beauty’s Jewels, the Duck in Peter and the Wolf, and a Swan from Swan Lake. Kailey also performed roles in MCB’s original production of Alice in Wonderland, as well as several roles in productions of The Nutcracker, including Marzipan, Spanish, and Waltz of the Flowers with Columbia Performing Arts Centre and Arabian and Chinese with The Moscow Ballet. 

Throughout her years of training, Kailey also competed at Youth America Grand Prix, performing multiple solo and ensemble works. She was also awarded “Hardest Worker in Ballet” in 2018 and Hardest Worker in Jazz” in 2019 by Columbia Performing Arts Centre, as well as a Working Scholarship with the School of MCB from 2019–2021, and the NUVO Dance Convention Jazz & Contemporary Standout Scholarship in 2022. 

Kailey’s teaching and assisting credits include the School of Missouri Contemporary Ballet, Columbia Performing Arts Centre, Integrity Dance and Yoga, and Stonecrest Dance. She now performs in multiple performances per year as a Company Apprentice with City Ballet Theater and teaches at the City Ballet Theater School.

Lillian Berry

Company Apprentice

CBT School Instructor – Pre-Ballet/Pre-Tap, Contemporary, Jazz

Lillian Berry was born and raised in Mid-Missouri. Her love for dance started at the age of three at a local studio where she studied in several genres of dance including ballet, contemporary, jazz, tap, pointe, lyrical and hip hop. During her time there she was a part of their competition team, where her love for performing grew.

From there she continued her training at the Mareck Center for Dance (formally known as the School of Missouri Contemporary Ballet). Focusing on her classical and contemporary technique while there, she had the opportunity to be a part of their pre-professional company. Lillian performed in numerous productions as well as choreographing her own original works, and had one of her pieces selected by the school director to be performed at National Dance Week St. Louis.

Over the years some of Lillian’s solo roles and group performances include, “the Wolf” in Peter and the Wolf with the School of MCB, “Bombalurina” in Cats with Columbia Dance Academy, “Russian” and “Snow Maiden” in the Great Russian Nutcracker with Moscow Ballet, “Lobster” and “Courtier” in original production of Alice in Wonderland with Missouri Contemporary Ballet. She also performed at MCB’s production of Carmina Burana and competed at Youth America Grand Prix with MCB’s pre-professional company.

Eva Berry – Company Trainee