Windward Dance Company is an advanced rep performance group selected by audition. Through a series of short-term residencies with some of the most accomplished artists in the business today, students maintain a strong technical foundation and create and perform commissioned choreographic works.
Born in Bacolod City, Philippines, Francisco Gella first began dancing in college at the age of 19 and later graduated with a B.A. in Dance from the University of Washington in Seattle in 1996.
Francisco has been a company member with the Philadelphia Dance Company; Repertory Dance Theater; Spectrum Dance Theater; Chamber Dance Company; Seattle Opera; California Ballet and Ballet Pacifica. He danced at the National Choreographers Initiative two years in a row, performed as a principal soloist at the Closing Ceremonies in the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics in Japan and was featured in a PBS Dance in America Special in Daniel Ezralow’s holiday satirical work entitled the X-mas Philes. Coming out of retirement in August 2014, Francisco performed a solo work for the Dancing Under the Stars Festival in Orem, Utah.
Francisco has choreographed for Pennsylvania Ballet’s Shut-Up and Dance production, PHILADANCO’s Danco on Danco program; Danco/II; Ballet East; Tucson Regional Ballet; Reflections Dance Company; California Ballet; Ballet Pacifica; the University of Utah Ballet Ensemble; South Bay Ballet; Luminario Ballet; the Orange County High School for the Arts; Los Angeles Ballet Academy; the University of Washington Dance Program and for the prestigious Laguna Dance Festival. His work for South Bay Ballet entitled Configured Echoes garnered the Best Choreography Award at the National Regional Dance America Conference. His Tango en Pointe solo was performed for the Presidential Scholar’s Gala held at the Kennedy Center.
He has been a finalist multiple times for the McCallum Theater’s Dance Under the Stars Choreography Festival in the professional and pre-professional divisions, and in 2013 won the Grand Prize. He has also created numerous award-winning contemporary ensembles and solos for Youth America Grand Prix competitors. Francisco has been awarded the title of ‘Outstanding Choreographer’ at the Youth America Grand Prix semi-finals in Los Angeles in 2011 and in San Diego in 2012; has also been a featured choreographer for RAWArtists.org; and was the assistant choreographer of Patricia Zhou’s solo featured on a segment in the hit TV show “Dancing with the Stars.”
In 2013, Francisco founded the COLABO Youth Dance Collective. COLABO made its official debut in Jamie Nichol’s Celebrate Dance in Glendale, California where Francisco’s “Concentric Harmonies” also premiered to rave reviews. In August 2013, Francisco created a ten-minute ballet that premiered at Utah’s Dancing Under The Stars Festival where he also came out of retirement to perform. In October 2014, Francisco premiered a fifteen-minute contemporary ballet for Arizona’s Phoenix Ballet in front of an international audience at the Beijing Ballet Invitational opening gala event. Most recently, Francisco’s new Modern Dance work ‘Collage’, created for the Irvine Valley College Performing Dance Ensemble, premiered at the department’s annual fall concert featuring the choreography of faculty and special guest artists. In April 2015, Francisco will be Artist-in-Residence with the Repertory Dance Theatre of Salt Lake City.
Francisco is the founder and artistic director of NUEVO School of Contemporary Dance (2008-2014) and COLABO Youth Dance Collective. He has been a guest instructor with BODYTRAFFIC; Luminario Ballet; SUNY Binghamton Summer Dance Institute; Extravadanza in Montreal, Canada; West Coast Dance Academy; Lula Washington Dance Company and School; California Ballet Conservatory; Ballet Pacifica Conservatory; Festival Ballet; Tucson Regional Ballet; Orange County High School for the Arts; Michelle Latimer Dance Company; The Southern Strutt Dance Company; Columbia City Jazz Company; Northern California Dance Conservatory; Master Ballet Academy; Bunker Dance Center; the Be Discovered Talent Development Program; The Dance Awards and many other schools and studios. He is currently an artist in residence at Dance Industry in Dallas, Texas and at Utah’s Center Stage Performing Arts Studio. While a company member at the Philadelphia Dance Company, he taught master classes at numerous prestigious colleges and universities throughout the world. Francisco is in his third year as the lead ballet faculty of the 24 Seven Dance Convention, Gil Stroming’s highly successful convention with tour stops in cities all over North America.
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. His award-winning innovative choreography, and highly effective inspirational teaching methods are sought after by universities, schools, and companies across North America and around the globe.
Born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, Rachel Harris began training at Dance Productions and later attended the University of Southern California Glorya Kaufman School of Dance where she recently graduated with a BFA in dance and is currently pursuing an MA in Journalism for the Arts. She has trained at summer intensives including Jacob’s Pillow, The Ailey School, Ballet X, and Abraham.In.Motion. She has performed as a soloist in works by Crystal Pite, William Forsythe, Barak Marshall, Dwight Rhoden, Paul Taylor, and many others as well as USC’s West Side Story. She is a Parsons Dance Apprentice and has danced with many noted artists including recording singer/actress Brandy. Rachel continues her passion of creating sustainable technology, designing architecture, and teaching locally at Dance Productions, JBP Entertainment, and other studios. She is a founding member of Zeitgeist Dance Theatre.
After attending the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Sophia graduated with the inaugural class of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance in 2019. While at USC, she performed works by Aszure Barton, Alejandro Cerrudo, William Forsythe, Jiri Kylian, Crystal Pite, Dwight Rhoden, Paul Taylor, and more. Simultaneously pursuing her own choreography, she collaborated with composers, musicians, writers, and filmmakers. She has attended Springboard Danse Montréal twice, performing works by Ohad Naharin, Micaela Taylor, and Margie Gillis. Sophia is a founding member of Zeitgeist Dance Theatre, co-directed by Francisco Gella and Yusha Marie-Sorzano. In addition to dancing, she works closely with pre-professional dancers on college preparation and training.