Dancer Steven Morse Brings Back DanceFAR (For A Reason)

DanceFAR, a performance and after party organized by Steven Morse to benefit the International Rescue Committee and Gugulethu Ballet Project, will be held Sept 7 at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco. For tickets: www.dancefar.org

When dancer Steven Morse took a 2017 volunteer trip to Costa Rica focused on turtle conservation, part of the project involved long evening walks far off the grid. “I had four hours to just think,” he says, “and I kept thinking—I wish I could help the world with my dancing. When I got home, the first thing on the news was the immigration crisis in Mexico. It really struck a chord for me that kids were being separated from their families, and I decided to do something to help.”

Dores André and Carlo Di Lanno in the Act 2 pas de deux from Wheeldon's Cinderella© // © Erik Tomasson

Morse remembered DanceFAR (Dance For a Reason), a fundraising performance organized by former SF Ballet dancers James Sofranko, Garen Scribner, and Margaret Karl in 2012. When he reached out for advice, they asked if he’d like to take over DanceFAR. The original event had benefited the Cancer Prevention Institute of California, but as that organization has since been absorbed by UCSF, Sofranko and Scribner readily agreed to Morse’s idea of new beneficiaries. “What’s been great is that I didn’t have to start from scratch,” he says. “People know DanceFAR is about dancers coming together to aid a global cause.”

Former SF Ballet dancer Garen Scribner co-founded DanceFAR in 2012 // Photo © Alexander Reneff-Olson

This year’s DanceFAR performance and after party will benefit the International Rescue Committee, a global humanitarian organization; and Gugulethu Ballet Project, which brings ballet to the children of South African townships. “The more homework I did about the refugee crisis, the more I realized that it’s bigger than just immigration,” explains Morse. “After spending time educating myself more deeply, I feel really strongly about IRC’s mission. And I learned about Gugulethu Ballet Project through Garen, who had taught in South Africa. Dance has the power to educate and inform and change people’s lives—I’m a product of that. So I feel strongly that people should be exposed to and given opportunities to dance.”

Behind the Scenes at DanceFAR // Photo © Alexander Reneff-Olson

Morse invited dancers from across the Bay Area to perform, and was thrilled by the response. The September 7 performance at the Herbst Theatre will be a one-night overview of Bay Area dance, with performers from San Francisco Ballet, Diablo Ballet, ODC/Dance, Post:Ballet, Amy Seiwert’s Imagery, AXIS Dance Company, SFDanceworks, Menlowe Ballet, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, and Smuin Ballet. Each company is given seven minutes to perform: SF Ballet will perform a pas de deux from Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella.  “When I reached out, everyone was super enthusiastic,” says Morse. “The dance community is so generous—dancers are so happy to share their gifts. 

For more about DanceFar 2019 or to make a donation, visit dancefar.org. Please note this is an independent performance, organized by Soloist Steven Morse.

Cinderella © Christopher Wheeldon

Header image: Steven Morse // © Erik Tomasson

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