Seattle Dance Advance – 2021


~ SDA 2022 will be held in Seattle on November 25-27. Registration will open by July. ~



A limited number of teachers and directors are invited to observe classes throughout the weekend. A teacher pass must be purchased in advance for $145.


Typically, parents are invited to the opening orientation session, the closing session, as well as a workshop or two that will focus on helping young dancers prepare for future study and careers. Although we will continue this in the future, due to COVID safety protocols we are not including this aspect of the program in 2021.


The Seattle Dance Advance is limited to intermediate and advanced pre-professional dancers ages 10-21 due to the rigorous requirements of the program. For the purposes of this workshop, ‘Intermediate/Advanced’ is roughly defined as a student preprofessional having danced for at least one year in a studio as a company member with a minimum of 3 hours of Ballet training per week and 10 hours total weekly of dance classes or enrolled in a conservatory setting with at least six hours of Ballet a week and a minimum of 10 hours of total weekly dance classes. Although the above is required, what is most important is that dancers come with a strong desire to be challenged and grow.

Space will be limited for up to 100 dancers for the three days and dancers will be broken up into two groups based on age. We expect that this program will sell-out.


To increase the diversity of dancers who are able to train with us and to create an inclusive learning environment, Francisco Gella Dance Works offers a limited amount of tuition scholarships for especially deserving dancers. Scholarships are reserved for those with true financial need, and will be allocated according to the combined consideration of both merit (ability and potential) and demonstrated financial need. Decisions on scholarships will be made on a rolling basis, and because a limited amount of scholarship awards are awarded, it is best to apply early. 

Please click HERE to learn more about this opportunity and to apply.




This three-day holiday weekend intensive focuses on providing a strong foundation in ballet, modern, and jazz techniques accompanied by diverse movement styles and genres as well as choreographic repertory from Francisco Gella and Yusha-Marie Sorzano. Francisco and Yusha-Marie are Co-Artistic Directors of Zeitgeist Dance Theatre. Our curriculum is designed to unlock the potential that exists within every participant.

Frequently called a ‘breath of fresh air’ by students, parents, teachers and directors alike, every one of Francisco Gella’s programs delivers on a central commitment: To transform hardworking young adults into remarkable young artists regardless of body type or background, and instilling a belief in them that anything is possible with hard work, a sense of purpose, and a willingness to take risks.


For dancers, the future is the choices they make now to prepare for their success. When given the proper information and tools, dancers, as well as their parents and teachers who support them, have the keys to unlock the full potential that exists within. 

It is in this spirit that the Seattle Dance Advance Intensive – always held the weekend following the Thanksgiving holiday – was introduced in 2016 by master educator and choreographer Francisco Gella. Bringing this world-class training program to the Pacific Northwest is a result of Francisco’s desire to return to the city that ignited his passion for the art form while a dance student at the University of Washington. Along with his team of expert faculty mentors, Francisco will generously share his deep knowledge and expertise refined in his 25+ years as a performance artist, gymnastics coach, teaching artist, and dance maker.

Francisco Gella


Along with the exceptional training you’ll receive from our faculty, there’s another important reason to attend the Seattle Dance Advance!

Our intensive is a designated audition location for the Zeitgeist Dance Theatre Trainee Program, as well as scholarship awards for Francisco Gella’s Ballet+ (beyond technique) intensive in Miami and the New Century Dance Project Choreographic and Performance Workshop. All of these programs will be held between June and August 2022. 

There’s nothing extra you need to do when enrolling in SDA and there is no extra cost if you’d like to audition. Our staff will reach out to everyone who has enrolled before the program begins to find out if you’d like to register for the audition.


To help you prepare for the experience, here is a downloadable PDF of the 2019 schedule as an example of what you can expect this year until we update the schedule closer to the program date. Please note, this schedule is subject to change from year to year.

The daily class schedule will run between the following hours:

  • Friday       8:00am – 6:00pm
  • Saturday  9:00am – 6:00pm
  • Sunday     8:00am – 5:00pm

Student dancers are required to participate for the entire three days of the program to experience the desired results.


Class Size will be limited to up to 50 dancers. Although classes will be based on age group, faculty reserve the right to move a student to a different class if it is obvious they will benefit from the change.


Francisco and Yusha-Marie


Artistic Director and Core Faculty

Ballet, Modern, Contemporary, Improv, Choreography

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 premiere 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, 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 return as a resident artist at the International Dance Festival Palm Springs in 2020 where he has again been commissioned to premiere a new work. And coming up in 2020 he has been invited to create new works for Ballet Idaho and Brigham Young University.

Francisco is the founding artistic director of NUEVO School of Contemporary Dance and COLABO Youth Dance Collective (2008-2015). As founding Chief Creative Officer 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 Ballet Company Intensive, 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 lead 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.


Core Faculty

Ballet, Modern, Contemporary, African-Based Movement, Choreography

Yusha Marie Sorzano, Associate Director for Community Engagement at Francisco Gella Dance Works – Originally from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Ms. Sorzano received her primary instruction from New World School of the Arts, Thomas Armour Youth Ballet, and The Dance Theater of Harlem. In her senior year, she received an award for outstanding choreography from New World School of the Arts, as well as an award in dance from the National YoungArts Foundation. She went on to attend the Ailey/Fordham BFA Program and in her junior year was invited to join Ailey II. Ms. Sorzano has been a member of Complexions Contemporary Ballet, The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Morphoses, TU Dance, BODYTRAFFIC, and Camille A. Brown and Dancers. She has also performed as a guest artist with Benjamin Millepied’s LA Dance Project. Ms. Sorzano has performed in principal roles with the Ailey company and in a wide variety of concert works, including works by noted choreographers Ulysses Dove, Maurice Béjart, Hofesh Shechter, Kyle Abraham, and Mauro Bigonzetti. Additionally, she has performed alongside recording artists Wynton Marsalis, Sweet Honey in the Rock, and Rihanna. Her theater, television, and film credits include being a guest artist on “Dancing with the Stars,” principal dancer in Chicago’s acclaimed Goodman Theater’s “Crowns,” and principal dancer in the independent film “You, Me & The Circus”.Deeply passionate about the powerful role that educators play in the lives of young artists, Ms. Sorzano enjoys teaching both nationally and internationally. From Trinidad to the United States and beyond, Ms. Sorzano has had the pleasure of teaching at esteemed educational institutions and festivals around the world, including the Ailey School, Lines Ballet/Dominican Universities BFA Program, TU Dance, Contemporary Choreographers’ Collective, New World School of the Arts, The Windward School, Brasil’s Mostra Danca, and Italy’s Danzainfiera. Ms. Sorzano currently serves as the Artistic Director of the Joffrey Ballet Schools Dallas summer intensive and as an Associate Director for Program Development with Francisco Gella Dance Works.


Core Faculty

Contemporary, Improv

Karl Watson grew up outside of Cleveland, Ohio. After training at local studios, he attended Butler University, graduating in 2012 with a B.F.A. in Dance Performance cum laude. Following his graduation, Karl worked with Luna Negra Dance Theater in Chicago. He then joined Visceral Dance Chicago as a founding member. Karl currently works in Seattle with Whim W’him, under the direction of Olivier Wevers. Karl has had the opportunity to perform works by a wide range of contemporary choreographers, including Ohad Naharin, Gustavo Ramirez Sansano, Nacho Duato, Robyn Mineko Williams, Banning Bouldin, Fernando Melo, and Sidra Bell. In addition to his work as a performing artist, Karl is actively involved as an educator. In Chicago, he was the Associate Director of Visceral Studio Company. Karl now teaches throughout the Seattle area and is an adjudicator for VIP Dance.


Core Faculty

steven sofia

Steven Sofia is presently teaching Dance and Pilates at Chapman University. Prior to joining the faculty at Chapman, he spent three years as an Artist-in-Residence at the University of Washington for the Musical Theater Program. Steven is a Broadway performer, dance captain, choreographer and dance and Pilates teacher. His Broadway and National tour credits include Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life, Chicago, Kiss Me Kate, Beauty and The Beast, Guys and Dolls (‘92 revival), and Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story. Some other credits include: A Chorus Line at Olney Theatre (Helen Hayes Award winner for the Best Musical in 2013), An Evening with Betty Buckley at Carnegie Hall, Applause at City Center’s Encores, Susan Stroman’s Contact with Sarasota Ballet at Asolo Rep. Theatre, and several Tony Awards and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade presentations. He also danced with The American Dance Machine where he worked with such choreographers as Ron Field, Agnes DeMille, Buzz Miller, and Gwen Verdon, to name a few. He has been an assistant to Broadway choreographers Tony Stevens and Chris Chadman. Steven restaged the National Tour of Chicago for Troika, a number for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with Andy Williams, productions of Pippin, Anything Goes and 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at the UW, a production for the Wings Theater, and directed and choreographed Pippin for NYU’s Cap21. Steven has been on the dance faculty with NYU, Cap21, SUNY Purchase, Marymount College, Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway. Steven is also a certified classical Pilates instructor.

More teaching artist announcements are coming soon!



Bellevue, WA

International Ballet Academy is located at 11211 MAIN ST. BELLEVUE, WA 98004.


We’ve arranged for a limited number of discounted hotel rooms for dancers and their families traveling from a distance. The Seattle Marriott Bellevue is just 2 miles from the venue. The discounted rate is $109 per night plus taxes.

This rate is available with check-in on Thursday, November 25 through check-out on Sunday, November 28.

Booking information:

Francisco Gella Dance Works Room Block
Start Date: Thursday, November 25, 2021
End Date: Sunday, November 28, 2021
Last Day to Book: Thursday, October 28, 2021

Book your group rate for Francisco Gella Dance Works Room Block

For other hotel recommendations close to the studios where the program will be held, please search for downtown Bellevue Hotels near 11211 MAIN ST. BELLEVUE, WA 98004.


CANCELLATION/REFUND POLICY: No full refunds will be issued for registered participants. A 50% refund will be issued with cancellations made up to sixty days prior to the start of the program.  An exception will be made for documented medical or health reasons due to an unforeseen injury or illness. For dancers with an injury or illness, 100% of the tuition will be refunded up to thirty days prior to the start of the program. If the illness or injury reported to the program director is under 30 days, a 50% refund will be issued b no more than five business days after the completion of the program and the other 50% may be used as a credit for another program in the next twelve months that is produced and owned by Francisco Gella Dance Works. In the case of any injury or illness, a documented note or letter from a licensed physician on their letterhead must be submitted before a refund will be considered.

Feel free to contact us in the chatbox below or email us if you have any questions.