U.S. Marine veteran Roman Baca was a classical ballet dancer before his enlistment in 2000. In 2005-6, he spent time in Fallujah, Iraq as a machine gunner and fire team leader. When he returned, he and his wife founded Exit 12 Dance Company in New York.
Roman discovered what I have suspected for some time: that the beauty of movement, the impact of music and the violence of war can be used together with sometimes devastating effects. He says: “Dance pieces about loss and brutality can cut to the heart of human experience.”
From the beginning, the artistic mission of Exit12 has been to use choreography as a means of communicating the diverse and nuanced experiences of military veterans. But it wasn’t until two of Roman’s veteran friends took their own lives that Exit12 started holding workshops with active duty and retired veterans, with the goal of coaxing out creative expression through movement of the body.
For Roman—and for many others now (and hopefully in the years to come)—dance has proven to be a powerful tool in dealing with the emotional and psychological distress of war.
Baca’s unusual story is featured in a film, “Exit 12: Moved by War,” that is moving and inspiring (and happens to be 22 minutes along, an echo of the 22 veterans that take their lives every day).
View it below or by clicking here.