Meet the Musician: Cordula Merks

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The 2016 Repertory Season marks the 40th anniversary of the SF Ballet Orchestra. As Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer, Helgi Tomasson, recently remarked, “the finest dance can only happen with the support of an equally world-class orchestra.”  To celebrate our world-class musicians, we will introduce you to various members of the Orchestra throughout the season . Today we’d like to introduce you to the SF Ballet Orchestra’s newest member, Concertmaster, Cordula Merks.

Cordula Merks (© Chris Hardy)

Cordula Merks (© Chris Hardy)

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There’s a place for your child in the San Francisco Ballet family!

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SF Ballet School’s Pre-Ballet Program offers a wonderful and unique introduction to classical ballet for boys and girls ages four to seven. Pre-ballet is beneficial in many ways. It helps create opportunities for self-expression, discipline, risk taking, problem solving, and creativity. Students have the opportunity to dance along with live piano accompaniment while learning the fundamentals of classical ballet training with a focus on proper body alignment, basic ballet technique and terminology, and musicality. One parent noted, “The pure joy and enthusiasm for ballet and music that the School’s Pre-Ballet Program fosters in our six-year-old is evident on her face after every class and stays with her throughout the week. The program builds confidence, discipline and body-awareness. We’ve seen a big change with her sense of physical movement and control of her muscles. She loves to share what she’s learned each week.”

Kristi DeCaminada instructs students during San Francisco Ballet School's 2015 Open House. (© Erik Tomasson)

Kristi DeCaminada instructs students during SF Ballet School’s 2015 Open House. (© Erik Tomasson)

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Dancers as Athletes

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 Lisa Giannone is the founder and owner of Active Care, a physical therapy and sports rehabilitation clinic located in San Francisco. Giannone is a physical therapist and biomechanical specialist with a particular focus on sports rehabilitation and training. She is a member of the SF Ballet Health and Wellness teamed headed by supervising physician, Dr. Richard Gibbs, and serves as the rehabilitation and conditioning specialist for SF Ballet.

How did you get your start with professional athletes?
In the 1990s the San Francisco 49ers brought me in to consult on a rehab issue that became tricky and had a slow recovery. I was successful and quickly became known as a problem solver for multiple, “high stake” rehab cases. I went on to write a protocol and several progressions that the NFL and university training rooms use today. I’ve worked with NFL teams across the country, the US Olympic Decathlon team, gold medalist Dan O’Brien, Stanford sports, the USA Basketball Women’s National Team, the Golden State Warriors, as well as boxers Andre Ward, Andre Berto, and Robert Guerrero. Yuri Possokhov was the first SF ballet dancer I worked with over 16 years ago. Now, on any given day you are likely to find SF Ballet dancers training, fine-tuning, and rehabbing at Active Care.

Lisa Giannone working with NFL Player Jerry Rice

Lisa Giannone working with NFL player Jerry Rice

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SF Ballet School Alumni Spotlight: Marisa Chang

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It was a pleasant surprise to receive an email from the SF Ballet School recently, reaching out to reconnect with alumni. Without hesitation, I replied back not really knowing what to say other than to provide my contact information.

Memories quickly flooded in, taking me back to when I was a student at the School. I still remember the smell of hair spray, sewing elastics on pointe shoes, the endless supply of tape and band-aids, perfecting our pointed feet with thera-bands, and of course, sweat. Some of my fondest memories from the School were snack breaks with classmates at Café Allegro, leaving school at noon to take technique class, staying behind just to watch the older dancers, and finally performing in the Nutcracker alongside our dream ballerinas: Evelyn Cisneros, Elizabeth Loscavio, Katita Waldo, and Tina LeBlanc.

Marisa Chang as Clara in SF Ballet's Nutcracker

Marisa Chang as Clara in SF Ballet’s Nutcracker

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