City Ballet Theater

Who We Are

City Ballet Theater Company & CBT II 
Creative artistry and a contagious love for what we do is at the heart of our professional company and our pre-professional student company. Whether it’s a thought-provoking two-act story or a single joy-filled piece, it is our hope to share everything beautiful and meaningful found in dance and the performing arts with our audience!

City Ballet Theater School 
With over 30 years of combined experience in business and the performing arts, we have first-hand knowledge of what dancers and parents need in a professionally-focused dance school. It is our goal to provide as much well-rounded training and knowledge of the performing arts industry as possible in order to help our dancers succeed.

We are a professional dance company and pre-professional school
dedicated to excellence and joy in training, performance, and creativity!

Co-Creative Directors, Emerson Mertens (daughter) and Heather Mertens (mother) – Photo by Trazo Litrato

Our Goals and Training Philosophy

Positively impacting our community is central to our mission at City Ballet Theater. We wish to instill a love of the true art and athleticism of dance, as well as foster creativity, discipline, high work ethics, educational value, and pure joy! It is our full intention to give our dancers amazing opportunities to learn this incredible art form in a safe, fun, and uplifting environment.

Whether a person ultimately makes dance his or her career or simply keeps it close to heart as a hobby or artistic appreciation, we hope that what our students and audience take away from City Ballet Theater will last a lifetime.

Dedicated Training for Each Dancer

Dance is an incredible art form designed for both women and men of all ages in ways that showcase their different styles and strengths. We believe it is important to train both our male and female dancers in such a way that they develop into individual, yet complimentary, paths.

We know the importance of the classical training for both our male and female dancers. Both male and female dancers will train with each other regularly in all dance forms. Each of these classes are taught with the approach to steps and performance quality that are unique to the male and female dancer.

City Ballet Theater Company

Each of our classes are dedicated to teaching the elements that are specific to women or men and their respective unique abilities and qualities, such as pointe for female dancers and boy’s jumps and turns for male dancers, which are particularly designed for their physique, muscle strength, and performance style.

Whether he or she has aspirations to join a professional classical company or follow another career path, we believe in remaining dedicated to training our male students to become masculine gentlemen and our female students to become graceful and feminine ladies in both class and performance.

We are also very serious about maintaining a carefully thought-out, healthy, science-based training that recognizes the differences between the design of the male and female physique that continues to develop into his or her individual strengths and abilities throughout life.

Photo by Trazo Litrato

Environment and Approach

We are family-oriented and believe in modesty, self-respect, and respect for others in everything we do. We believe in creating an environment and performances that maintain all of our Christian values while also still encouraging individual creativity and unique artistic expression.

Our faith is a central part of who we are and how we live because we care deeply about honoring God in our work and staying true to our biblically-based values. It as an integral part of how we approach running our company and school, as well as the content of our productions, so you can feel comfortable knowing that it is of utmost importance to us to provide a safe, healthy, and appropriate environment for our students and their families.

Just as the physical health and safety of our students, dancers, and faculty are important to us, so is each individual’s mental and emotional health. It is our goal to maintain and foster an encouraging, disciplined, and age-appropriate atmosphere in every aspect of what we do, including our instruction, music, costuming, and performances.

Photo by Trazo Litrato


What Is Important to Us

  • Teaching correct dance techniques
    Each dance style will follow a class syllabus that will be taught along with the correct terminology and healthy physical development.
  • Developing well-rounded artists
    It is our goal to foster a love of the art of dance in our students and encourage them to become their own unique artists no matter what career path they choose to pursue. Dance is much more than linking steps together. There are a multitude of elements that make a person a true artist, and these elements are what we wish to develop in each student as they grow and learn.
  • Encouraging precision instead of perfection
    We believe in training dancers to become the best they can be through disciplined study of each dance form. Instead of teaching our dancers to strive for an unattainable goal of perfection, we help them to reach their full potential by focusing on precision and accuracy in their technical understanding and abilities, as well as appreciating the joy they experience and the beauty of the art they create.
  • Physical, mental, and emotional health
    We believe that each person was perfectly created by God according to His design, which includes physical attributes and abilities. Each and every girl, boy, woman, and man is unique from birth and has a purpose, as well as wonderful gifts and talents to share with the world.
  • Multiple performance opportunities
    Performance is an essential part of dance, and it brings joy to both the dancers and the audience. Students also work hard all year long, and they should be given opportunities to showcase their efforts and abilities. One of our goals is to create numerous performance opportunities for our students. Our company and school performs everything from classical ballets like The Nutcracker to new, contemporary works based on well-known fairytales, biblical and historical figures, and variety shows.
  • Appropriate music and content
    We know that most people connect with current, popular music, so we will often include well-known songs in our repertoire and classes so long as they are age and content appropriate. In some cases, a song may be fun or have a great message but include one questionable word or phrase not suitable for all audiences, and in these cases we will edit the song so as to remove the word or phrase in question (so long as an inappropriate connotation is not still present in the song).
          • Appropriate costumes and class attire
            We care about every student’s wellbeing, so we put careful thought into our costume selection and dress code so that the attire worn by our dancers does not portray the opposite of what we want it to portray, which ultimately gives students and the audience a false sense of what beauty is and causes unwanted distraction. Instead, we want our dancers to find confidence in their gifts, talents, and hard work rather than in a pursuit of fleeting fame or the wrong kind of attention brought about by the exploitation of vanity and sensuality. We are very careful to choose costumes that are not revealing or inappropriate for our performances, and our class dress code is designed with this in mind as well.
          • Inclusion of parents in the artistic education of their children
            There are several opportunities for the parents to be included in the education and creative process – from sitting in on the health and dance shoe learning presentations, to volunteering backstage for productions, to helping to create sets and props. While classes and rehearsals are generally closed to viewers, we want you to be a part of your child’s experience and growth as a dancer whenever possible!


          What you won’t find at City Ballet Theater

          • Harsh teaching methods to severely push the dancers
            While serious discipline is important to us and will be heavily emphasized, we will promote healthy class atmospheres and will not allow any teacher or student to talk down to each other in any manner.
          • The “just because it was always done that way…” attitude
            While we respect and appreciate tradition, we also recognize that with time comes new ideas and new inventions, which can sometimes be very helpful. While some schools and instructors are adverse to changes in things such as pointe shoe technology, we believe these areas should be explored while also continuing to hold onto the aspects of dance that continue to be important and carry significance throughout the centuries.
          • Unorganized methods that leave parents and dancers in the dark about their education or other opportunities
            Even though we can’t promise perfection, we will make it a priority to be the most organized group you have ever worked with at any time!