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Headshot of a female dancer in a black top

Aerys Merrill



Aerys Merrill is from Richmond, Virginia, and began studying the art of dance at three years old. With subsequent education at Richmond Ballet, her home studio, she was chosen to perform the role of Clara in The Nutcracker. As a full scholarship recipient, she had the opportunity to train at the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre in New York for two summers.

In 2018, Aerys received her BFA in Ballet performance from The University of North Carolina School of the Arts, under the direction of Susan Jaffe, and training under Misha Tchoupakov, Eva Draw, and Jennet Zerbe.

During her tenure at UNCSA, Aerys was casted for lead roles, including Snow Queen in The Nutcracker and numerous supporting roles in Susan Jaffe’s Metallurgy, Sasha Janes’ Lascia, Goyo Montero’s Benditos Malditos and Helen Pickett’s Petal. Aerys’ professional career began in Atlanta Ballet 2 where she had the pleasure of performing roles in Yuri Possokhov’s The Nutcracker, Bruce Wells’ Beauty and the Beast and Nadia Mara’s Volar.

Aerys continued her professional career and danced with Ballet Memphis for the 2019-20 season.

Aerys is sponsored by Louise & Philip Keller.

The Water Sprite leaps and dances joyfully while Pinocchio looks on in wonder.
Two female dancers reach out to a cracked wall
Female dancers wearing masks and 18th century costumes
Two men wearing kilts hold two women in pointe shoes and colourful dresses aloft
Dancers rehearsing for their roles in Casanova
Two dancers hold their hands against a dry cracked wall
Dancer performing as a red seahorse

A Step Into Creation

Learn more about Aerys

Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Dayton, Ohio but raised in many different places due to my dad being in the air force. 

At what age did you start dancing?

I started dancing at the very young age of three! 

Where did you train?

I trained at Richmond Ballet and attended college at University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Previous companies

Previously, I danced with Atlanta Ballet in their second company (2018-2019) and with Ballet Memphis (2019-2020).

Which Northern Ballet role would you most like to dance?

I love that Northern Ballet does a mix of story ballets and new works. One of my favourite ballets is Romeo & Juliet, I would love to dance that here.

Career/training highlights

Dancing Snow Queen in University of North Carolina School of the Arts’ production of The Nutcracker was a wonderful experience. I am also thankful to have the opportunity to dance Clara in The Nutcracker when I was training at Richmond Ballet and then when I was dancing with Ballet Memphis. I was grateful to revisit the role a few years later with more experience.

What do you like most about being a dancer?

The music! It has always had a special connection to me growing up. I love discovering ways that the body and movement can articulate and express the music. I also love the feeling I get when I dance to music. Music touches my soul in such a way that my body just has to respond.

If you could adapt one work into a ballet what would it be?

I’m not sure, maybe a Sherlock book or the Odyssey.

What is your favourite book?

Pretty much any mystery book. I don’t have a favourite.

What is your favourite post-show meal?

Pasta! Honestly, anything Italian, it’s my favourite cuisine!

How do you like to relax?

I will either listen to music, play the piano or take a walk in the park, I love to be outside.

If you weren’t a dancer what would you be?

A musician or a photographer.

Photos by Riku Ito, Drew Forsyth, and Emily Nuttall.