FOCUS Guest Faculty

Samantha Galler HeadshotSamantha Hope Galler

Samantha Hope Galler, a Bedford, Mass. native, spent 13 years training with The Ballet Academy, Inc., under the direction of Frances Kotelly in the Cecchetti Method. She performed six seasons with The Northeast Youth Ballet under the direction of Denise Cecere. She continued training, on scholarship, with Boston Ballet School and received the PAO Merit Trainee Scholarship. She received the NFAA Honorable Mention Award in Ballet. Galler spent summers training at Boston Ballet, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and Boston Conservatory. She danced with Cincinnati Ballet in their 2008-2009 season under the direction of Victoria Morgan.

Galler spent five seasons with Alabama Ballet under the direction of Tracey Alvey and Roger Van Fleteren. During her tenure there, she was promoted to principal dancer. She had the honor of performing some of her dream roles including Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, The Lilac Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty, The Sylph and Effie in La Sylphide, Myrtha and Moyna in Giselle, Dryad Queen and Mercedes in Don Quixote, the Rancher’s Daughter in Agnes De Mille’s Rodeo. Her Balanchine roles included Dark Angel in Serenade; The Sugarplum Fairy, Arabian and Lead Marzipan in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™; and the principal roles in Allegro Brillante and Tarantella. She has also performed in Jiří Kylian’s Sechs Tanze, and Van Fleteren’s Shostakovich and Romancing Rachmaninov, both world premieres.

Galler joined Miami City Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet in 2014. Since joining Miami City Ballet, she has performed as the Sugarplum Fairy in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Louise in Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Carousel Pas de Duex (company premiere), Russian Girls in George Balanchine’s Serenade, and as the Harp Soloist in George Balanchine’s Raymonda Variations.

We are so happy to have Samantha for all three weeks of FOCUS!

N'Fungola 1.jpgN’fungola Sibo African Dance and Drum Company

We are happy to celebrate 9 years with the entire N’Fungola Sibo Dance Company this year! We will have them for the second week of our Summer Intensive, Monday, July 10th. Mikeall Hawkins, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana began developing a passion for the art of dance at age 6.  Her devotion to dance and performing arts inspired her to teach West African Dance to a new generation.  In 2007, Mikeall Hawkins founded N’Fungola Sibo African Dance Company, (This is my Dream) a nonprofit organization located in New Orleans, Louisiana. Ever since, N’Fungola Sibo has awakened the spirit of Africa within everyone in their presence through authentic dances, instruments, songs and folklore.  The organization has performed and participated in New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club celebrations, Annual Dance Concerts, Congo Square Rhythms Festival, New Orleans Night Out Against Crime, Cultural Workshops, and numerous community events nationwide.

Mikeall is a well-rounded and respectable person who is committed to provide a safe and nurturing environment for individuals and families to receive cultural enrichment through the art of African dance and expression.

photo2Lucia Kuimova

Lucia received her Vaganova Ballet training in Russia. After graduating Perm State University of Fine Arts with a Masters Degree in Choreography and Ballet Pedagogy, she was immediately invited to join the University Faculty. She toured internationally as a Principal Dancer with The Russian Ballet in many countries including France, Japan, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Greece, Spain, Romania and the United States. Lucia is a guest teacher and choreographer for the top ballet schools and universities in the United States including, School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of the New York City Ballet, the American Academy of Ballet in New York, Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle Pacific University, the University of Washington in Seattle, Olympic Ballet Theater, Tacoma Contemporary Ballet and Florida Dance Masters Convention. Before coming to New Orleans, she was a full-time faculty member for the Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle, one of the most prestigious ballet companies in the US. Lucia serves on the Board of Directors for the Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestra. Together with Pembo Cieutat Academy, Lucia will again coach the ballet students from the Greater New Orleans and Northshore areas for the annual Moscow State Great Russian Nutcracker International Tour at the Saenger Theatre.

It is Mrs. Lucia’s mission as a teacher to provide an educational environment that can foster the intellectual and personal growth of young performing artists so that they may achieve their fullest potential as professional dancers, leaders and citizens of the world. Mrs. Lucia looks for the best in every one of her students and teaches them to recognize their own progress as artists.

Mrs. Lucia is part of the faculty at Body Expressions Center of Performing Arts for the summer and fall season. We are happy to have Mrs. Lucia for all three weeks of FOCUS!


McGowan HeadshotKatie McGowan

Katie McGowan hails from New Orleans, LA, where she began her dance education under the direction of Sylvia and Sandra Labourdette. Early in her training Katie toured the country as a V.I.P. with Dance America/Dance Olympus where her love for dance only grew stronger. She graduated with top honors and a BS in Theatre and Dance from Northwestern State University. After college, Katie was chosen as Choreographer and performer in multiple shows including Chicago, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Clue the Musical, the Vegas-style variety show, Thrillusions just to name a few. In 2011, Katie moved back to her hometown where she performed with 2B Tribe Dance Company for a number of years. She is now teaching, choreographing and spreading her love of dance to students in the southern region as well as judging for Stage One National Dance Competition.

More Guest Faculty Bios coming soon!