Faculty & Staff
Jessie Eccles Quinney Ballet Centre Downtown & Trolley Square
ACADEMY DIRECTOR | Peter LeBreton Merz
Peter LeBreton Merz was named academy director in 2015. He has committed to building on the tradition of excellence at the Academy, and is dedicated to raising the level of training to be on par with the best national and international ballet schools.
Merz brings over 20 years of experience as a dance educator and choreographer to his role as academy director. From 2004-2015, he served on the faculty of Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA. While there, he rose to the rank of Associate Professor, tenured, and led the ballet unit of the faculty for seven years. He taught courses in ballet technique, pointe, male enchainment, classical pas de deux, dance composition, theater stagecraft, and an academic class in “Arts and the Human Experience”.
Merz has served as a coach, choreographer and jury member for several ballet competitions, including the USA International Ballet Competition, the Korea International Ballet Competition, the American Dance Competition, and the Youth America Grand Prix. He was named Outstanding Teacher by the YAGP jury at the Pittsburgh regional in 2014, and has twice been named Outstanding Choreographer.
INTERIM PRINCIPAL | Heather Fryxell
Heather Fryxell received her early dance training with Thomas Armour in Miami, Florida. Ms. Fryxell attended the University of Utah and Brigham Young University, majoring in English literature and educational psychology while on a full tuition talent scholarship. Ms. Fryxell then danced with the Atlanta Ballet before joining Southern Ballet Theatre (currently Orlando Ballet) as a principal dancer. During her eleven year tenure with the company, she also taught in the company’s school and served as a lecture demonstration coordinator for the outreach program. In her last year with Southern Ballet Theatre, Ms. Fryxell directed the School of Southern Ballet Theatre. In addition to these positions, she also created her own adaptive dance program, Movement Mentor, to teach children and adults of special abilities. Movement Mentor is now a part of the Ballet West education and outreach program and is taught in several schools here in Utah and Florida.
In 2000, Ms. Fryxell co-founded the Central Florida Ballet and the Ballet Academy of Central Florida. There she directed the school, directed the student company, developed her adaptive dance program, and danced in the professional company. Upon returning to Utah in 2005, Ms. Fryxell began teaching at Ballet West where she is interim principal of the downtown campuses and associate director of adaptive dance.
Ms. Fryxell has danced the principal roles in all the great classical ballets, and she has also performed in Balanchine ballets and contemporary works.
Awards and accomplishments include competing in the International Ballet Competition in 1990, performing at the International Ballet Festival in Cuba in 1992, earning degrees in English literature and educational psychology from Brigham Young University, and being honored with Honorary Alumna at Brigham Young and Heather Sanders Appreciation Day for the city of Orlando. Ms. Fryxell’s teaching career has spanned 3 decades, teaching ballet to students of all ages and skill level. Ms. Fryxell has had many award-winning students who have won top honors at ballet competitions and students who are currently dancing professionally nationally and internationally.