About the Institute

Francisco Gella’s annual Preprofessional Dancer Institute (PDI) offers serious-minded and highly-motivated, aspiring dancers the opportunity to polish their skills and further prepare themselves to enter the world of professional dance. Over this 5-day program, an intimate group of no more than 60 dancers ages 12-18 selected by the program faculty will work intensively with acclaimed teaching artists Francisco Gella and Julie Shulman Friedrich to elevate their technique, broaden their range of stylistic diversity, and explore and hone their creative voices. Additional workshops, panels, and personal sessions with PPDI faculty, university professors and program directors, and professional dancers and company directors will empower participants to understand their professional options and prepare to thrive in their careers while also maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

This program offers intimate training and exposure in concert dance (ballet, modern, contemporary), show dance (Broadway and Las Vegas), commercial dance (Hollywood) and improvisational techniques, as well as pointe, men’s, and partnering. As the larger group is split into two concurrently running smaller ones, class sizes allow participants the benefit of personalized attention, while a rigorous and varied training schedule lifts dancers to meet the profession’s high expectations of endurance, focus, and adaptability.

The Pre-Professional Dancer Institute also brings students in contact with dancers and artistic staff from the collegiate and professional dance worlds. This allows upcoming professionals to engage in open conversations about their career options and the best avenues and strategies for pursuing their goals. Representatives from top college dance programs will provide insights into the requirements and benefits of BFA programs. This exposure also offers dancers the opportunity to be seen and considered by important decision-makers and receive personalized advice.

Aspiring professionals ages 12-18 will accomplish all of this through Francisco’s positive, nurturing and challenging philosophy of cultivating holistic dancers who pursue excellence in mind, body, and spirit. Participants will form a community in which members feel challenged and supported. All of this in beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico, one of the country’s leading tourist destinations and cultural epicenters!

Faculty Mentors

FRANCISCO GELLA  Founding Director & Core Faculty Mentor

Francisco Gella’s distinguished career as a professional dancer, choreographer, artistic director, and dance educator in the genres of ballet, modern, and contemporary dance, spans more than twenty years since he took his first ballet class at the University of Washington during his freshman year. Universities, schools, and companies seek after his award-winning innovative choreography, and highly effective inspirational teaching methods, across North America as well and around the globe. Francisco is the founding artistic director COLABO Youth Dance Collective and currently has artistic residencies in Utah, South Carolina and Dallas, Texas. He also serves as ballet director for the nationally acclaimed 24 Seven Dance Convention and ARIA Ballet Intensive. Born in Bacolod City, Philippines, Mr. Gella immigrated to the United States at age eleven and now resides in Los Angeles, CA.  franciscogelladance.com


JULIE ROSE FRIEDRICH  Associate Director & Core Faculty Mentor

Julie Rose Friedrich grew up in Los Angeles, California. She received her training from Meredith Baylis and the Los Angeles County High School for the Performing Arts. She began her professional career under the direction of Septime Webre at American Repertory Ballet. Julie was then invited by Lawrence Rhodes to join Les Grands Ballets Canadians. During her time there, she danced works by Nacho Duato, Ohad Naharin and various European choreographers, as well as the classics by Balanchine and Tudor.

She spent the next four years working in Europe. The first two years were in Switzerland, where she developed her contemporary style with the Orma Dance Company under the direction of Enrico Musmeci. The following two years, she worked in Sicily with Compagnia Zappala Danza, and the dance theatre company MotoMimetico. In 2005, Julie was fortunate enough to be invited to Bari to dance with the Compagnia Niccolo Piccini.

Upon returning to the United States, Julie was invited to be a founding member of the BODYTRAFFIC dance company, where she expanded her love of contemporary dance.

Currently, Julie teaches full time at the Windward School in Culver City, California, under the direction of Alesia Young. She has served as the senior seminar teacher for the dance department at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts for the past seven years. Through her guidance, Julie has had numerous Young Arts winners, and her students have gone on to study at Juilliard, USC/Kaufman, SUNY Purchase, and Dominican Lines just to name a few.

Previously, she has served on faculty at the Orange County High School for the Arts and as a master class teacher all throughout southern Italy. She has guest taught for the Alvin Ailey company, Lucinda Childs company, ATE9, and Bodytraffic.

In 2013, President Obama and the White House named Julie one of the most influential arts teachers in the United States through her mentorship of young dancers.

Adjunct Faculty and Presenters

Garrett Anderson, Chair of the Dance Department, New Mexico School of the Arts

Courtney Anderson, Ballet Faculty, New Mexico School of the Arts

Gisela Genschow,  Director, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet School

Allegra Lillard, Artistic Director, National Dance Institute, Santa Fe

Elise Gent, West African and Haitian Dance Instructor