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Dancing, For A Reason

November 5, 2015

DanceFAR 2014 performers taking a bow at the YBCA Theater (Photo by Alex Reneff-Olson)Here’s a novel idea: One night a year bring together the most talented dancers around, make it an all-star show, have them perform for free, throw in an after-party, and then contribute proceeds to cancer prevention. Name the event after the organization: DanceFAR — “for a reason.”  

The two-hour DanceFAR benefit, which is being held on Nov. 10 at 7p.m. in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater and Forum, is now in its fourth year. Net proceeds from last year’s performance totaled $100,000, and went to the Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC).

The idea was Garen Scribner’s. In 2011, Scribner, a long-time dancer with the San Francisco Ballet, fell into a conversation with then CPIC CEO Sally Glaser, a prominent researcher. Scribner’s father is also a researcher, in the field of physics, and so a resonance.  

Moreover, Glaser made a persuasive argument for the need for cancer prevention. 

“I liked that focus,” says Scribner. “because I believe in ‘wellness’ as opposed to ‘cure’ — which is important of course, but sometimes leads to drug dependency. I like the idea of ‘staying well’ rather than ‘getting well.’ I connected to the ethos of the organization right away.”   

With conviction in hand, Scribner went to his friend, James Sofranko, a soloist with San Francisco Ballet since 2007. They in turn drew in Margaret Karl, a former dancer also with San Francisco Ballet and now executive director of Post: Ballet. From that, DanceFAR was born. 

This year, more than 75 dancers will perform, including Marcelo Gomes and Stella Abrera, principal dancers with American Ballet Theater, and Scribner, who is currently appearing on Broadway in An American in Paris and will perform an excerpt from that, along with San Francisco’s Doris Andre. Scribner is also preparing a new solo piece.  

Other dancers come from San Francisco Ballet, the Alonzo King Lines Ballet, Smuin Ballet, Silicon Valley Ballet, Diablo Valley, Ballet San Jose, and the hip-hop group, Art of Teknique. 

The program has yet to be announced. For more information, visit There is also an after-party at the Forum that is included with a ticket to the performance.  

The Cancer Prevention Institute of California opened in 1974 as the Northern California Cancer Program.  The organization later became known as the Northern California Cancer Center and in 2010 the name was changed again, to the Cancer Prevention Institute of California. The institute includes 18 research scientists.

Mark MacNamara, a writer and journalist based in Asheville, North Carolina, has written for such publications as NautilusSalonThe Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Vanity Fair. From time to time, his pieces in San Francisco Classical Voice also appear in  Noteworthy examples include a piece about Philip Glass’s dream to build a cultural center on the Pacific Coast; a profile of sound composer Pamela Z and an essay on the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. MacNamara recently won several awards in the 2018 Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards presented by the San Francisco Press Club.  His website is