Today we’d like to introduce you to Samantha Hope Galler.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Samantha Hope. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
It is interesting to look back at your own story and realize the challenges and rewards that came with it. As I begin my 12th year as a professional ballet dancer, sixth with Miami City Ballet, I feel even more determined to tell my story and share the advice and skills I learned along the way. I have been fortunate enough to be able to develop a Mentorship Program for the Miami City Ballet School’s Pre-Professional Division.
As a child, I quickly fell in love with not only ballet, but performing. I began my studies at the Ballet Academy Inc., in Arlington Massachusetts under the direction of Frances Kotelly. With her, I spent over a decade training in the Cecchetti method. I then transferred over to the Boston Ballet School from 2004-2008. During my final year with the school, I attended their trainee program and moved into Boston. As the year came to an end, I hoped to receive a company contract, but I auditioned and received a second trainee-ship with the Cincinnati Ballet. I took the risk, deferred from colleges, and moved there in hopes of joining their company the following year. A year later, I found myself auditioning again. I was offered an apprenticeship with the Alabama Ballet. I took a chance again and found it to be a great fit. I worked my way up through the ranks to Principal dancer over five seasons. After gratefully working to fine tune my technique and acting on every kind of role, I sought new challenges. In February of 2014, I auditioned for the Miami City Ballet. Two weeks later, I was offered a coveted position with the Corps de ballet. Four years later, in February 2018, I was promoted to the rank of Soloist. Miami City Ballet provides the grounds to expand my knowledge of the dance world and inspires me to want to tackle it all.
Has it been a smooth road?
It has been anything but smooth, to be honest. During my training, one of the challenges I faced was the criticism I received for the length of my torso. Several teachers would mention the difficultly I might have in receiving a job offer because of the way I was built. I recall one person who specifically told my Mom that I would never dance in a company because I was too athletic-looking and my torso was too long. Most of my childhood, I spent being told I did not have the politically correct look for ballet. There was something about this criticism that hurt me. When I auditioned, for nearly 20-30 companies, during that period of my career, I had to watch others receive job offers based on their body, not their ability. I could have easily moved on to another career, but that is not what I really wanted and I would have certainly regretted that decision. I came to terms with the fact that I was not going to be like the other girls in class and if it took me longer to reach my goal then so be it. If I was to dance professionally, I would have to figure out another way to showcase myself.
My best advice is to present yourself as a ballerina every chance you get. If you believe it, it will be seen. There are infinite possibilities in life. I thought it was silly to hear this when I was little, but now, I strongly believe that there is a reason for everything. Our pathway is drawn from our willingness to take risks and overcome failures.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Miami City Ballet School Mentorship Program Series – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a program and what sets you apart from others.
The development of the Mentorship Program Series for the Miami City Ballet School’s Pre-Professional Division is based on various inspirations. The division is comprised of about 50 students who are in their final years of dance training. One main inspiration was the students themselves. They are extremely eager to learn everything they can about this career. When I watch them, I am reminded of my time in my final years at the Boston Ballet School. The last couple of years prove to be some of the most difficult because of the fear of the unknown. Will you get a job or will you have to train for another year? Or is this the right career? It can be so challenging.
After presenting the idea to the school and forming it into more than just an idea, I started out by speaking to small groups of students as sort of a trial. Now, less than two years later, it has grown into a full program with two series a month spread throughout the entire school year. Each series presents a topic that is common in our everyday dance lives. This includes confidence building, understanding the unknown, overcoming obstacles, strategies to stay focused, how to approach the stage, professionalism, summer intensive auditions, and company auditions. At my very first series, I had each student write down three goals they wanted to reach by the end of the year and three obstacles they would overcome. Personally, when I see it written down, it makes me think and approach it differently.
Depending on the topic for the day, the series allows there to be an interactive space to progress and relate, resulting in finding solutions and learning to progress the best way possible for each individual. Everyone wishes and seeks advice for their career process and I hope to provide them with one skill or idea that might help them reach their goals. My goal for the program is to bridge the gap between student and professional life so that a transition is easier for them whether it be in ballet, another genre of dance, or a different career.
Do you think there are structural or other barriers impeding the emergence of more female leaders?
Looking over my career, I realize I have only ever worked for female artistic directors and that is amazing since it is still dominated by men leaders. Over the years, there has been a slow shift, but I would say it is too slow. I am so fortunate to be able to start a program as a female and feel free to make decisions. It is about being equal and understanding one another without judgment. As I start my second year of the program and review the topics, although some may be slightly different, the overall goal for the men and women is the same. This is what I wish for male and female leaders, for there to be equality by allowing each gender to succeed.
- Website: www.samanthagaller.com
- Phone: 7812235861
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @samantha.galler
- Facebook: Samantha Hope Galler
Melissa Dooley Photography (Alabama Ballet), Daniel Azoulay (Miami City Ballet), Jonathan Taylor (NYC based Photographer), Alexander Iziliaev