City Ballet Theater

Artistic Director

Emerson Mertens

Emerson has over twenty years of experience in the performing arts with extensive training in classical ballet, Progressing Ballet Technique, contemporary, modern, tap, jazz, ballroom & Latin dance styles, dramatic and comedic acting, improvisational acting, and mime technique. She loves everything about dance and performing to spread joy and beauty.

She also has multiple years of personal cross-training in various kinds of physical fitness genres such as Pilates, Gyrotonic®, strength training, and dance-based workout classes.

  • Bachelor of Science in Religion: Biblical and Theological Studies with an emphasis in Digital Arts, Liberty University
  • Certified Instructor, Progressing Ballet Technique (based in Australia, associated with Royal Academy of Dance) – Trained in all levels (Junior, Senior, and Advanced) and successfully completed the PBT Certification Teachers Workshop under the direction of their Official Tutor of the USA, Robyn Segel Shifren
  • Studied with renowned instructors from all around the world including London, Russia, Italy, France, China, Norway, Mexico, South America, South Africa, Canada, San Fransisco, and New York City
  • Mentorship and personal instruction with master teachers who have graduated from some of the most prestigious schools in the world, including Michael Vernon of the Royal Ballet School in England and Dmitri Suslov of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Russia
  • Former Artistic Director of Anazao Dance
  • Performed numerous featured and lead roles with various company and school productions throughout her career, including the lead role of Clara in The Nutcracker with Minnesota Ballet Company and a Butterfly in Moscow Ballet’s The Great Russian Nutcracker

Administrative and Associate Creative Director

Heather Mertens

Heather’s creative experience started when her love for writing, acting, and singing bloomed at a young age. She started writing comedy skits, dancing, and choreographing as a teenager for talent showcases, her high school flag team and cheerleading squad, as well as the high school show choir. She took adult ballet classes, as well as college level modern classes at University of Missouri – Columbia. She enjoyed adding Hip Hop and Tap Classes and continues to love dance as a health and fitness aspect as well, as it helps her deal with fibromyalgia.

Heather has extensive pointe shoe knowledge, both from her own many years of research and from working with her daughter, Emerson, throughout her dance training and career. Heather has also volunteered and organized numerous dance and theater events, including charity productions, fundraising events & parties for Lexington Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Kansas School of Classical Ballet, and The Culture House Conservatory of the Arts, among others. She has worked in various areas through the years including: backstage, photos, ticket sales and marketing, fundraising, show organization, costume cataloging, coordinated videography for professional productions, costume design, news releases, community outreach, show setup, and organized and marketed a charitable event dance and song variety show.

Heather began her experience in business ownership and management over 30 years ago. She has been honored to be the director of a church food pantry, the media specialist on the Board of a children’s charity, and an online Christian writer. She has been a freelance marketing specialist for over 20 years, designing websites and marketing and social media plans for various companies in the United States. Add to that, her love of volunteering for multiple entities including dance, charitable, and church organizations, and she enjoys bringing much to both the administrative and creative sides of City Ballet Theater.