We all know there are a million and one ways to spend your summer intensive. But the programs we think about are invariably focused on technique and less so on the creative process. What if there was something that combined both?

Miami City Ballet School (Photo by Pavel Antonov)

Enter Miami City Ballet School's new Choreographic Intensive. The two-week program allows dancers ages 14–18 to work with new and emerging choreographers. Dancers will have daily pointe and technique classes with MCB faculty, and then work with young choreographers to create something new.

Though the choreographers haven't been announced yet, this sounds like an awesome opportunity for dancers to build connections and broaden their awareness of the dance world without sacrificing rigorous technical training. And (bonus!), if you're between 14–18 years old, you can even attend MCB's regular summer intensive in addition to the Choreographic Intensive. Now that sounds like a well-rounded summer.

For more info, click here.

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Oh, Rob Gronkowski: Bless your big, burly heart.

Why are we talking about Gronk? Well, for starters, he isn't a complete stranger to dance: The Patriots tight end—who graces the latest cover of GQ—is possibly as well-known for his twerking abilities as for his truly impressive work on the football field. And since the whole football-players-doing-ballet-to-improve-their-agility thing is still very much a thing, GQ decided it might be fun to put together a little cover-adjacent video package in which Gronk gets some pointers from a bona-fide ballerina.

Luckily for us, GQ has excellent taste in ballerinas. They brought in none other than Miami City Ballet principal soloist Nathalia Arja, one of our favorites, to put the Patriots player through his paces. Also luckily for us, Gronk was totally game—though perhaps a tad overconfident in his ballet abilities. Fake it 'til you make it, friend. (And hey, nice ballon!)

The fun might not be over, by the way. Boston Ballet has already challenged Gronkowski to do an encore performance back in Patriots territory—which, we have to admit, seems only fair:

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A charmingly natural actress, Miami City Ballet corps member Samantha Galler has already tackled some of the ballet world’s biggest characters, mastering complex roles with subtle finesse. The Bedford, MA, native grew up studying under Frances Kotelly at The Ballet Academy, Inc., where she perfected her technique before performing for six seasons with the Northeast Youth Ballet. After a short stint at Cincinnati Ballet, she moved to Alabama Ballet, where she danced for five seasons and performed dream roles such as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Odette/Odile in Swan Lake and the Lilac Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty. Galler joined Miami City Ballet in 2014, and this month will dance Hermia in George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Read on for The Dirt.

—Courtney Bowers

Galler in rehearsal. (Photo by Daniel Azoulay, courtesy Miami City Ballet)

What performer would you drop everything to go see? 

Philip Glass or Pink

If you could work with any dancer, past or present, who would it be?

Maria Tallchief, Gregory Hines

What are your must-see TV shows?

Anything on The Food Network, The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show and red carpet events.

If you weren't a dancer, what would you be?

A National Park ranger

Who would play you in a movie? 

Hopefully me

Who is your dance crush?

I would say Sascha Radetsky since I am a big Center Stage fan!

Dance-wise, do you have any bad habits?

I pull my chin down when I pirouette, but I'm working on it!

What's the most important thing in your dance bag?

A prayer card I have from when my best friend passed away after high school. She's my guardian angel and I carry it everywhere I go.

Do you have any pre-performance superstitions?

I do my hair three times and I like to close my eyes and review the entire ballet I'm about to dance.

What was your most embarrassing onstage moment? 

When I fell at the end of Balanchine's Tarantella. As I was turning, my partner was coming to kill me on the cheek but before he could, I made a brief stop on the floor. I sprang up and did a foot pop and ran off as fast as I could.

What has been the hardest thing about preparing for A Midsummer Night's Dream?

Hermia's variation is one of the hardest but most rewarding parts to this role. It's three minutes of jumping and running. It's like being shot out of a cannon. Visualizing yourself running as fast as you can to find your true love and then physically doing it is hard.

I know we're only a few days into the new year, with its promise of renewal and a fresh start and yahda yahda yadha. But after the craziness/excitement of Nutcracker and the holidays, odds are decent that you're actually feeling a little...unmotivated in the studio right now. It's just weird to go from EVERYTHING IS INSANE I'M ONSTAGE ALL THE TIIIIIIME to the same-old, same-old routine of classes and rehearsals.

Well, the dancers of Miami City Ballet are here to shake you right out of your post-holiday slump. In "Why We Dance," a beautiful new video by Ezra Hurwitz, artists from every rank of the company talk about what drives them to pursue this nutty, wonderful art. As one of them so perfectly puts it, the question "is not necessarily, 'Why do I dance?' It's more, 'Why can't I stop dancing?' "

There are dozens of gems like that in the three-and-a-half–minute short, set against footage of Miami City Ballet artists in class, backstage and in performance. (You'll catch several glimpses of "Strictly Ballet" season 2 star Mayumi Enokibara, who's now a full company member.) It's intimate and warm and—because we know exactly what the dancers are talking about—very real. If you're a big ol' softy like me, it might even make you tear up a little bit.

Get inspired:

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Sure, we all know you can score some sweet deals on fashion or electronics on Cyber Monday. But did you know that dance companies offer discounts on tickets, too?! This little discovery made my post-vacay Monday MUCH happier. These reduced-price tickets to some of the season's best performances are perfect for holiday gifting (or for treating yourself, let’s be real), so don't miss this one-day-only opportunity.

Boston Ballet's The Nutcracker, one of the shows offering Cyber Monday discounts (photo by Gene Schiavone)

Hubbard Street Dance

Pop in the discount code Desire38 here for 38 percent off on Friday or Saturday performances of the Season 38 Winter Series.

Miami City Ballet

Catch the company's production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker for 30 percent off with the promo code GIFTS15 at this site, or get discounted tix to other season shows, like A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Boston Ballet

50 percent off select performances of Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker? Yes, pleaseeeee. Just head here and use the code CYBERMONDAY.

The Music Center L.A.

The storied venue is offering various discounts on MAJOR dance events right here, including Cloud Gate Theatre of Taiwan, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Compagnie Käfig and American Ballet Theatre.

Orlando Ballet

Use the discount code CYBER here and receive a whopping 25 percent off select seats at shows including The Nutcracker, Don Quixote, Beauty & the Beast and Uncorked.

 

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Like all of you, we were totally obsessed with Season 1 of Teen Vogue's series, "Strictly Ballet," and luckily for all of us, Season 2 at Miami City Ballet wasn't far behind. It certainly didn't disappoint—the competition was fierce, the location was dreamy (palm trees and the beach seem like a perfect remedy for recovering from the ballet blues) and the students (much like last season) were all great dancers and people.

Mayumi (left) and Ella (right) are literally living their dream. (Photos via Miami City Ballet)

While it's a bummer that the show has once again wrapped up (third season, please!), the ending is always bittersweet: The drama, dancing and dedication may be over for us, but the careers of two of our new favorites are just beginning. As we saw in the final episode, Ella Titus and Mayumi Enokibara were offered contracts with the company. We all collectively cried along with the two stars as they called their parents to tell them the news. However, MCB has just made the official announcement via a press release, making it all the more real! Major congratulations to both ladies.

Justin Peck is everywhere. That's not hyperbole. In fact, I almost mean it literally.

Over the course of the past few months, he's debuted new ballets at New York City Ballet and Miami City Ballet; seen the opening of a documentary about his choreographic process, Ballet 422; announced that he'll be making his first piece for Paris Opéra Ballet next season, as well as two more works for NYCB's 2015–2016 season; and put together a critically acclaimed plan for total ballet world domination.

OK, the last bit isn't true—but in the context of the rest of that amazingness, you almost believed it, didn't you?

Peck (center) rehearsing NYCB's Craig Hall and Ashley Bouder (photo by Paul Kolnik)

Unsurprisingly, all that activity has generated a lot of press coverage, and CBS News is the latest outlet to get aboard the J. Peck train. They just released a great profile of the young choreographer, which includes wise Peckian words about the creative process (he hopes "to create this cohesive vision for what the ballet is going to be") and tons of pretty footage of Peck working with NYCB dancers—some of it straight from Ballet 422.

Happy Monday, everybody.

One of the many (many, many, many) reasons we love Justin Peck is that he collaborates with artists who are totally new to ballet. The 27-year-old New York City Ballet soloist, who was named the company's resident choreographer last summer, is always on the lookout for people who might have something unexpected to contribute to the ballet world. For the past few years, his projects with indie music darling and ballet newbie Sufjan Stevens have been electrifying both dance and music audiences. And for his upcoming ballet Heatscape, which Miami City Ballet will premiere in March, Peck recruited another dance "outsider": visual artist Shepard Fairey, best known for that iconic Barack Obama "Hope" poster.

On Sunday night, the Guggenheim Museum's always amazing Works & Process series took an up-close-and-personal look at Heatscape. Peck, Fairey and MCB director Lourdes Lopez talked about how the ballet came to be, and we saw several choreographic excerpts that left us hungry for more. Fairey's eclectic, lively collages mesh well with Peck's style; Peck is something of a masterful magpie himself. And oh goodness, those MCB dancers! We'd happily watch the elegant Patricia Delgado and laser-sharp Shimon Ito tie their shoes.

Peck (right) and MCB dancers in front of one of Fairey's murals

The Works & Process discussion went really, really deep—you can watch the whole hour-and-a-half long program here, and it's worth a watch. But to get a feel for the flavor of Heatscape in the space of two and a half minutes, take a look at this promotional video by Peck and Ezra Hurwitz. Its backdrop is Miami's Wynwood Walls, the series of vibrant street murals that first inspired Peck to reach out to Fairey. Enjoy!

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