Director of Academy of Dance;
President of American Pacific Ballet Company;
Co-Creator of Enchanted Doorway Adventures in Dance;
Co-Founder of International Dance Acclaim;
Judge and Master Teacher;
Adjunct Faculty of California State University (CSUF).
Merle’s early and extensive ballet training was with Mignon Furman in South Africa. She went on to become a graduate and licentiate of the Royal Academy of Dance in London, and an Associate of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD).
She has taught ballet for over four decades, initially in South Africa and then the U.S. where she opened the Academy of Dance. She has trained numerous dancers, many of whom went on to pursue careers with professional dance companies such as Texas Ballet Theater, BalletX, Austin Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, California Ballet as well as to major in dance at distinguished universities.
In 1997 she founded the American Pacific Ballet Company, a nonprofit group whose mission is to bring dance to the community and provide performing opportunities and a training ground for aspiring dancers.
Merle worked for Mignon Furman for many years as a faculty member of the American Academy of Ballet’s Summer School of Excellence where she taught each year and was responsible for the teachers training course.
She has developed and published The Enchanted Doorway Adventures in Dance© series of 5 dance training programs for young children that encourage creativity while teaching the basics in an age-appropriate and safe manner. Since the inception, the programs have been successfully taught in South Africa, Israel, Mexico, Singapore, Greece, England, Holland, Portugal and Switzerland as well as throughout the U.S.
Merle co-founded and co-created International Dance Acclaim (IDA), a performance-based ballet curriculum and a developmental program for ballet studios that applies the principle of artistic and technical progress through performance. This program has been adopted by many dance studios both internationally and throughout the USA.
She is on faculty at California State University Fullerton (CSUF) where she began teaching in 2005.
Merle’s experience as an international judge began in 1993 when she was appointed as one of only 180 examiners worldwide for the Royal Academy of Dance (an international examining body with a presence in 25 countries). In 2007 she was appointed as a judge for the American Academy of Ballet’s Performance Awards under the directorship of Mignon Furman. With the rapid growth of IDA, she continues to judge extensively.
Added to her already busy schedule, Merle is a master teacher, traveling and guest teaching across the country and internationally.