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.
JONIECE “JOJO” BOYKINS is an African American native of Inglewood, California. She graduated with honors, Cum Laude, receiving her BFA in dance from the Conservatory of Dance at SUNY Purchase College. During her time at Purchase, she performed the works of Doug Varone, Peter Chu, Kevin Wynn, Jonathan Reidel, Alexandra Beller, and Nejla Yatkin. Alongside her studies, she has attended professional programs such as Springboard Danse Montreal, Hubbard Street, Alvin Ailey, and Ron K. Brown/ Evidence’s summer workshop. Currently, she is the co-founder of the recently premiered dance festival, Upsurge Dance Festival. JoJo is also a company member with Lula Washington Dance Theater (Los Angeles). She has performed work by Donald McKayle, Rennie Harris, Christopher Huggins, Tommie Waheed, Lula Washington, and Tamica Washington-Miller. JoJo joined Doug Varone and Dancers in 2021.
FRANCISCO GELLA’s distinguished thirty-year career as a compelling dancer, award-winning choreographer, and widely recognized dance educator, began when he took his first formal dance class during his freshman year at the age of nineteen. His innovative choreography and highly effective teaching methods are sought after by professional companies, universities, arts high schools, ballet conservatories, and studios across North America and around the globe.
A 1996 graduate with a BA in dance from the University of Washington, Francisco is a past company member with the Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO); Repertory Dance Theater; and Ballet Pacifica. He has been a guest performer with Spectrum Dance Theater; Chamber Dance Company; Seattle Opera; Pennsylvania Ballet; California Ballet; Laguna Dance Festival; and National Choreographers Initiative. In 1998, Francisco 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 Xmas Philes.
Throughout his twelve-year professional performance career, Francisco was privileged to dance in the works of world-renowned choreographers including William Forsythe, Dwight Rhoden, Milton Myers, Talley Beatty, Anthony Tudor, Alwin Nikolais, Gene Hill Sagan, David Parsons, Ronald K. Brown, Bebe Miller, Jawole Zollar, George Faison, Murray Louis, Zvi Gotheiner, Lucinda Childs, Shapiro & Smith, Bill Evans, Laura Dean, Daniel Ezralow, Barak Marshall, Sophie Maslow, Viola Farber, Ford Evans, Susan McClain, Elisa Monte, Stephen Mills, Sarah Slipper, Ann Marie D’Angelo, Shaun Hounsell, Choo San Goh, Luca Vegetti, and Christopher D’Amboise.
Francisco’s choreographic commissions include Ballet Idaho, PHILADANCO, Repertory Dance Theatre, Ballet Pacifica, California Ballet, Ballet West Trainee Company, Pennsylvania Ballet’s Shut-Up and Dance Production, PHILADANCO’s Danco on Danco program, Laguna Dance Festival, art ́Emotion Choreographic Workshop, Palm Springs International Dance Festival, Palm Desert Choreography Festival, Tucson Regional Ballet, Harvard Ballet Company, University of Utah Ballet Ensemble, Brigham Young University Contemporary Ensemble, Utah Valley University Synergy Dance Company, University of Washington Faculty Concert, Irvine Valley College, Ballet East, DANCO/II, South Bay Ballet (now Ballet California), Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing & Visual Arts, Orange County School for the Arts and Douglas Anderson School of the Arts.
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.
Francisco’s commission ‘Between the Lines’, set on PHILADANCO (The Philadelphia Dance Company) and which premiered at the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts and at the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival in 2015, 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. In the spring of 2019, Francisco was invited to be the resident artist at the Palm Springs International Dance Festival where his new work ‘Particles’ had its world premiere. In the spring of 2020, Francisco was invited back to the festival in Palm Springs to premiere another original work. Prior to its live premiere, Francisco’s ‘Particles’ was produced as a dance on film and in 2018, was selected for inclusion in the San Francisco Dance Film Festival and the LA Dance Shorts Film Festival.
In addition to a successful performance and choreographic career, Francisco is a renowned educator, artistic director, and arts entrepreneur. He is the founding co-artistic director of Zeitgeist Dance Theatre launched in January of 2020. He is also the founding artistic director of NUEVO School of Contemporary Dance and COLABO Youth Dance Collective (2008-2015). As Chief Creative Officer of Francisco Gella Dance Works, he has created numerous influential educational programs; Ballet+ (beyond technique) workshops, the Preprofessional Dancer Institute, New Year’s Training Camp, Seattle Dance Advance, the New Century Dance Project (a festival for choreography and performance) and the College Dance and Career Prep program. Additionally, Francisco is the lead ballet and modern faculty member, and adjudicator for the 24 Seven Dance Convention. Born in Bacolod City, Philippines, Francisco now resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
ZAK RYAN SCHLEGEL is a performer with Shen Wei, educator at The Joffrey Ballet School, founder of bi-monthly dance salon CONGRESS, and co-artistic director of AXIOM Dance Theatre. New York Times calls him “a star” and Wall Street Journal “eye-catching & effortless”. His choreographic work has been presented from The Juilliard School in NYC to Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA and he is a three-time Outstanding Choreographer of the Youth America Grand Prix,. His extensive research of Eastern and Western movement traditions adjacent to the philosophical tenets of observation and questioning largely inform his technical vocabulary, arresting language and physical study of identity.
Zak can be seen in the feature film Babylon, directed by Damien Chazelle starring Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie, as well as the HBO series Euphoria, directed by Sam Levinson starring Zendaya and The Weeknd’s highly anticipated HBO series The Idol starring Lilly Rose Depp. His recent short film “It Beauty It Is Unfinished” has received critical acclaim from The Athens International Film Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, and recently won the Knight Foundation Made in MIA award at the Miami Film Festival. He has worked with directors Damien Chazelle, Sam Levinson, Edgar Wright, Melina Matsoukas, Floria Sigismondi, Amy Seimetz, Sebastian Strasser, Nina McNeely, Dugan O’Neal, Greko Sklavounos, Eliot Lee Hazel, WIFE, Lita Albuquerque and GMUNK.
On stage, Zak has danced has performed and toured globally as company member and soloist in Shen Wei Dance Arts, Italy’s Spellbound Contemporary Ballet led by Mauro Astolfi, Yin Yue Dance Company and Backhausdance on iconic stages from BAM, Art Basel Miami and Hong Kong to The Guggenheim, Asia Society in NY and Hong Kong and Arcosanti’s FORM Festival. He creates an evening length, experiential sound bath “Liminal” with Jonsi and Alex Somers of Sigur Ros, and has danced the works of Jean-Guilliame Weiss, Ryan Heffington with associate Ryan Spencer, Mandy Moore with associates Jillian Meyers & Megan Lawson, Michael Rooney, Kitty McNamee, Nina McNeely, Jennifer Backhaus, Denna Thomsen, Lisa Eaton and Josie Walsh. He received formative training from Rafael Bonachela at Sydney Dance Company, Danielle Agami, Lucas Crandall, has participated in Gaga research with Ohad Naharin in Tel Aviv, Israel and holds a BFA from Chapman University.
Commercial collaborations include: The Weeknd, Sigur Ros, Britney Spears, Ry X, Lawrence Rothman, Years & Years, Peaches, MIKA, Ecko, Audrey Nula, Nova Wav, Fitz and the Tantrums, Japanese Breakfast, Lawrence Rothman, The Pierces, Sam Sparro, Vogue Italia, FLAUNT and OUT magazine, Lexus, Toyota, Ford, Squarespace, Amazon Prime, Sleep Number, Tedx, The Getty, Milk and FIDM in multiple genres and platforms from film/television, music videos, live stage performances, commercial campaigns and print editorials.
Zak practices the act of query as the primary motivation of understanding—where mortal repetition and shifting layers become the central geometry of being.