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Garen Scribner & the Cancer Prevention Institute of California

Who's In Front



What do ballet dancers and cancer prevention research scientists have in common? Hard work, determination, health consciousness, and, in the case of San Francisco Ballet’s Garen Scribner and Cancer Prevention Institute of California’s CEO Dr. Sally Glaser, a drive to change the world.

The son of a physicist at the Naval Research Laboratory, Garen Scribner is no stranger to science. And Dr. Sally Glaser naturally gravitates to all things involving music in her spare time, particularly the world of dance. The two met at a special event produced by the San Francisco Ballet to showcase the company’s current season. They quickly found common ground. Dr. Glaser was impressed with Scribner’s artistry and broad interests and Scribner was immediately energized to learn about the important cancer prevention work being done at CPIC, having lost his grandmother to pancreatic cancer. Close family members and friends of his have battled cancer, too.

Throughout his life, Scribner has been athletic, participating in sports such as soccer, baseball, and basketball, in addition to dance. He started ballet lessons at age seven in Arlington, Virginia, where he grew up. After a brief stint with ice skating, he returned to ballet to train seriously at age 12, studying at local schools, and at 15 went on to finish his training at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. He remembers dancing the role of Fritz in the Washington Ballet’s Nutcracker, and three years and about 30 performances later, he joined the world-renowned San Francisco Ballet in 2003 at the age of 17.

Scribner’s repertoire with the San Francisco company includes John Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid and Helgi Tomasson’s Giselle. He will soon be dancing in works by William Forsythe, Yuri Possokov, and Helgi Tomasson in the San Francisco Ballet’s upcoming Program 3 of its 2011 Repertory Season, opening Thursday, February 24th.

Scribner prefers to dance new and contemporary works and those that make classics new. His attraction to new directions and fresh perspectives is perhaps part of what draws him to the Cancer Prevention Institute of California and its Get In Front campaign in support of cancer prevention research. A focus on cancer prevention is, after all, a fresh approach within the 40-year war on cancer that has mostly focused on finding a cure.

Scribner said he was shocked and amazed to learn from his conversation with Dr. Glaser that as many as one in two people now will get cancer at some point in their lifetime. In memory of his grandmother, he is inspired to lend his support to the Cancer Prevention Institute’s Get In Front campaign.

“The work that the Cancer Prevention Institute is doing is helping to encourage a shift in consciousness, a holistic approach to taking care of our communities by preventing disease and encouraging wellness before the problem begins,” said Scribner.

And Scribner knows quite a bit about prevention. Like other ballet dancers who face the constant threat of injury, he takes proactive measures to stay healthy, engaging in cross training, such as Pilates and weight lifting, and focusing on healthy eating.

“In classical dance, there’s this perception that dancers have an unhealthy relationship with food,” said Scribner. “But really, food is viewed as fuel and a source of energy. Eating right and nutrition is important to dancers.”

Dr. Glaser hopes more people like Scribner will join the Get In Front movement. “We at CPIC are grateful to have someone from the arts involved in the Get In Front campaign,” she said. “Anyone can be an advocate for prevention, if he or she believes in a healthier future for ourselves and our loved ones.”

Scribner has even more reasons to Get In Front of cancer. When his dancing career ends, he hopes to pursue a Masters degree in Arts Management or an MBA so he can one day put his tremendous energy into directing a nonprofit. See Garen in action with the San Francisco Ballet.