Aventura Mall Presents: iAM A Culture Icon with Samantha Hope Galler

Aventura Mall Presents: iAM A Culture Icon with Samantha Hope Galler

The iAM Series is a captivating campaign from Aventura Mall that shares the compelling stories of individuals whose lives are intricately intertwined with Aventura Mall and South Florida. The stories that shape us.

From an impassioned artist to a graceful dancer and an inspired chef, these individuals’ diverse stories reflect the vibrant spirit that defines Aventura Mall and are integral threads in the fabric of the community. Through intimate portraiture and vibrant South Florida backdrops, the Aventura Mall Presents iAM Series invites the community to embrace new possibilities and foster a sense of belonging, weaving these exceptional talents into the very heart of the vibrant tapestry defined as Aventura Mall.

Debuting the series is Samantha Hope Galler, a principal at Miami City Ballet and a dedicated Aventura Mall enthusiast, who shares her journey from the stage to the heart of the community.

Aventura Mall Presents: iAM A Culture Icon with Samantha Hope Galler

Tell us a little bit about your childhood and formative years in ballet.

I grew up in the small historic town of Bedford, Massachusetts, about 15 miles outside of Boston. We were a close-knit family and my parents always supported my desire to dance, although doing so professionally was a first for us! Throughout my childhood, I attended public schools in Arlington, Massachusetts, and also went to a small dance school until I transferred into Boston Ballet School. Subsequently, I would spend time with Cincinnati Ballet and Alabama Ballet, before joining Miami City Ballet in 2014 as a member of the corps de ballet.

As part of Miami City Ballet, I have had access to coaches, repertoires and opportunities which accelerated my artistic growth and shaped me into the principal I am today. The journey has been a childhood dream come true!

When did you begin dancing? Why do you love ballet?

My parents put me into dance school at age five, and I absolutely loved it! But although I greatly enjoyed tap and jazz, ballet held a special place in my heart. By the time I was nine, I had devoted myself completely to ballet.

I find ballet emotionally, mentally, and physically compelling. On stage, I feel truly free and unfettered, expressing myself completely through movement. When I’m dancing, I feel wrapped in light and everything else disappears.
As a perfectionist, I appreciate the challenging techniques that must be mastered, while the artist in me thrills at interpreting the dance through the filter of my personality. For me, the true measure of my performance is how I feel after I leave the stage. Did I leave my heart out there?

Can you describe your typical day at the ballet?

I come in at 9:00 a.m. and warm up until 10:00 a.m. Then, I spend six hours per day between class and rehearsals. We usually practice two or three pieces concurrently, learning the bulk of the entire season between August and October. Ballet requires mental and physical fortitude, the ability to push through pain until you surrender to the dance. The training is rigorous and demanding, but that’s the price of perfect expression.

Aventura Mall Presents: iAM A Culture Icon with Samantha Hope Galler

How do you feel before a performance? Can you share some of your favorite performances?

Before I go out on stage I feel ignited by passion, driven to not hold anything back. Nerves are no longer a big issue because I know I’ve worked tirelessly to perfect the role. Of course, anything can go wrong – even a shoe could feel off and affect your performance – but I don’t dwell on that. I focus on everything being perfect.
My first performance with Miami City Ballet was very special. For the first time in my life I experienced the wonder of dancing flawlessly as a group. I remember going into the dressing room and saying to the other dancers: “I guess that’s what it feels like to dance as one!” Another magical moment was my surprise performance as Swan Queen in Alexei Ratmansky’s North American premiere of Swan Lake.

How do you give back?

One of my passions is mentoring ballet students at the Miami City Ballet School Mentorship Program. Being able to share your knowledge and experience validates everything you’ve done and teaches you things about yourself. Giving back is my way of putting gratitude into action.

Dance is a universal language and I hope to see ballet become a more widely embraced form of expression. Miami City Ballet is helping to enrich our community by working to make ballet a mainstream art form.

We understand you enjoy shopping at Aventura Mall. What is it that draws you there?

I live practically across the street from Aventura Mall, which is fortunate because I love its energy and vibe. I lose myself there, taking in the master artworks, the vibrant community, the wonderful restaurants and shops.
One of the things I really appreciate is how unique the shops are. Each boutique has its own personality and is different from the next. In terms of the restaurants, there are so many wonderful international choices, I can travel the globe without leaving my own backyard! Sometimes, I just escape on my own to Aventura Mall, immersing myself in the sense of beauty and being that feeds my very soul.

The Aventura Mall iAM Series will continue throughout this year and into 2024, showcasing different individuals, including November’s feature of iAM a Style Maker, Kimmie Sussman.