Faculty Mentors

FRANCISCO GELLA  Founding Director & Core Faculty Mentor

Francisco Gella’s distinguished twenty-five career as a compelling dancer, award-winning choreographer, and widely-recognized dance educator, began when he took his first formal dance class at the University of Washington at the age of nineteen. His innovative choreography and highly effective teaching methods are sought after by professional companies, universities, arts high schools conservatories, and studios across North America and around the globe.

Francisco’s choreographic commissions include Repertory Dance Theatre, Ballet Pacifica, California Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet’s Shut-Up and Dance Production, PHILADANCO’s Danco on Danco program, Laguna Dance Festival, Tucson Regional Ballet, University of Utah Ballet Ensemble, University of Washington Faculty Concert, Irvine Valley College, Ballet East, DANCO/II, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing & Visual Arts, Orange County School for the Arts and Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. His commission ‘Between the Lines’, set on PHILADANCO (The Philadelphia Dance Company), premiered at the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts in April, at the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival, and was selected by PHILADANCO’S Artistic Director Joan Myers Brown as the company’s sole performance at the opening to the Democratic National Convention in 2016.

Among the recognition he has received includes numerous choreography awards at the Youth America Grand Prix International Ballet Competition including Outstanding Choreographer, and the Outstanding Choreography Award at the National Regional Dance America Conference in 2007. In 2013, Francisco premiered ‘Concentric Harmonies’ at Celebrate Dance in Los Angeles, a work that went on to receive the Grand Prize at the McCallum Theatre Choreography Festival in 2014. In 2014 and 2015, his work ‘Solstice’, performed by the Phoenix Ballet had its world premier at the 60th Anniversary Gala of the Beijing Dance Academy and its European premiere at Poland’s prestigious Lodz International Ballet Festival. In May 2016, his work ‘Souvenirs de Mouvement’ was selected as a featured performance at the nationally recognized Booker T. Washington High School of the Performing & Visual Arts’ annual ‘Flying Horse Gala’. In 2018, Francisco’s work ‘Timelapse’, performed by the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, was selected for the gala performance at the National High School Dance Festival. Most recently, Francisco was invited to be the resident artist at the Palm Springs Dance Festival where he will be premiering a new work.

Francisco is the founding artistic director of NUEVO School of Contemporary Dance and COLABO Youth Dance Collective (2008-2015). As founder of Francisco Gella Dance Works, he has created numerous educational programs; Ballet+ (beyond technique) workshops, the Preprofessional Dancer Institute, New Year’s Training Camp, Seattle Dance Advance, the New Century Dance Project (a youth dance festival), the College Prep program, and Dance 360 – an online educational community that provides ongoing knowledge and support for students, parents, and teachers. Additionally, Francisco is the ballet and modern faculty member for the 24 Seven Dance Convention and founding director of ARIA Ballet Intensive produced by Break The Floor. Born in Bacolod City, Philippines, Francisco now resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

JULIE ROSE FRIEDRICH  Associate Director & Core Faculty Mentor

Julie Friedrich’s distinguished career as a professional dancer, mentor, and dance educator in the areas of ballet and contemporary dance spans more than 18 years since she joined her first professional company at the age of 17.  Julie received her primary dance education from the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and Meredith Baylis of the Joffrey Ballet School. Upon graduation, Julie joined the American Repertory Ballet under the direction of Septime Webre, and then went onto join Les Grands Ballets Canadiens in Montreal under the direction of Lawrence Rhodes.  Discovering her passion for contemporary dance during her time with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, she made the move to Europe where she danced professionally for the following five years. She has danced works by George Balanchine, Anthony Tudor, Ohad Naharin, Septime Webre, Nacho Duato, Guy Weizman, Alex Ketley, and various other European choreographers. Upon returning to the United States Julie joined the acclaimed contemporary dance company BodyTraffic as one of its founding members.

 Currently Julie teaches, choreographs and mentors students across the country. She teaches full time at the Windward School in Culver City under the direction of Alesia Young, and tours the country with Francisco Gella as part of his artistic team as one of his principle faculty mentors. In 2017 Julie became the associate artistic director of the Pre Professional Dance Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico under the direction of Francisco Gella. Julie has been on faculty at the ARIA intensive as part of Dancerpalooza for the last three years. Most recently Julie has signed on to become one of the main contributors to Dance 360 under the umbrella of Francisco Gella Dance Works.

 Previously, Julie taught for over a decade at both the Orange County High School for the Arts and the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. During her time at both schools, along with teaching ballet and contemporary, she was the lead senior seminar advisor to all of the graduating dance students going onto the professional and collegiate world of dance.  Through her guidance, Julie has numerous Young Arts winners and her students have gone on to study at the Juilliard School, USC/Kaufman, SUNY Purchase, Tisch at NYU, and the Boston Conservatory just to name a few. Professionally, she has former students working in such companies as ATE9, Kyle Abraham, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Cirque Du Soleil, and on Broadway. In 2012 Julie was featured in the documentary film “ Fame High” for her mentorship of Grace Song, the first Korean American female to be admitted in dance to the Juilliard School. 

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

Adjunct Faculty and Presenters

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

Jonathan Ragsdale, Theatre and Broadway Dance Instructor